Part 5: Seed Starting
Bag of Seed Starting Mix
Or, if you are doing a lot of seedlings make your own for much less money:
4 parts screened compost
1 part perlite
1 part vermiculite
2 parts coir
Flat trays or seed trays - I get these at garden centers when they throw them away. I like the deep, flat trays the best, although I have started seeds in just about any free container.
Soil Blocker - if you really get into starting your own seeds, this thing is a lifesaver! I have one that does three blocks at a time. I recommend buying it at Johnny’s Select Seeds.
Labels - you can use the garden sticks to label each flat with the date and name of the seedling. One of my favorite things to use is an old vertical shade cut into pieces.
Seeds from your favorite seed company.
Spray bottle that sprays gently
What to do:
Start dates are important. This simple chart will help you determine when to start your seeds indoors.
Press your seeds firmly into the soil 4 times the depth of the seed’s diameter. Mist your entire tray and label with a marker.
Seeds do not need sunlight to germinate. They need warmth and moisture. Lots of people cover the entire flat with a plastic bag and place it on the top of a refrigerator.
Once seeds sprout, move them to sunlight. Placing seedlings near a window is fine, but you will want to turn them every other day or so to keep them from bending toward the sun.
*** If seedlings get “leggy” of too long and yellow, they need more light. If they start to mold or mildew, they need less water.
Here is an excellent video from my friend at J&J Acres on how to do the whole process.
Harden off seeds in a protected outdoor place (like a wall against a house) for two days before transplanting into the garden.
*** Thinning is hard for me. I hate clipping off a thriving seedling, but doing it indoors is much easier than doing it when you are trying to transplant out in the garden. Don’t pull extra seedlings, or you will disturb the roots of the one left. I use fingernail scissors.
Here is another great video from J&J Acres
Why Save Seeds
How to Save Seeds