Spring has Sprung (so the calendar says) but these cold nights are still making a bit difficult to get edible crops in the ground. If you are itching to get started with this years’ planting, starting seeds indoors is the way to go! Starting your own seeds saves money on plants, and allows you to grow unique varieties that you might not be able to find at the local nurseries. As these cool nights stretch on, starting a few seeds indoors can get your head back in the gardening game for 2021. I like to buy seeds from companies in the Pacific Northwest. Those seeds will be more suited to our climate and growing conditions. Here are a few of my favorites – Uprising Seeds and Territorial Seeds .
How to: Planting the seeds
Step 1: Determine which containers you are going to use. Get creative! Recycle toilet paper rolls or egg cartons, which are the perfect size for small seedlings. Give yogurt containers or milk cartons a second life as a small planting pot or make small pots out of newspaper with a can to form shape. Any container can be used but make sure to poke holes in the bottom for drainage and clean them with soap and water or a light bleach solution to prevent mold or other seed enemies.
Step 2: Mix your soil mix (medium) with water just enough to dampen it. Fill your containers and smooth the surface, but do not pack down as you want the seeds to have room to sprout.
Step 3: Use your finger or pencil to make a small hole in the soil at the depth and spacing recommended on the back of the seed package.
Step 4: Plant your favorite seeds! Typically you want the seed planted at a depth that is 2-3 times the width of the seed. Larger seeds will develop into larger plants so container selection should be taken into account. Make sure to label what you plants, as many seedlings look alike until they are a big larger.
Step 5: Water! Seeds actually don’t need light to germinate (emerge from the soil) but they do need moisture. Turn an old water bottle into the perfect sprinkler by poking holes in the cover which will give the perfect light sprinkling tool and ensure that seeds are not disturbed. These containers may need watering even twice per day to keep soil consistently moist. Keeping your trays covered with clear plastic or lids help to maintain moisture will speed up the process.
How to: Caring for Seedlings
Temperature: Once the plants sprout (germinate) they will require bottom heat to keep roots warm – place trays near a heat source if possible
Lighting: Keep that bright additional light source 2-4 inches from the top of the plants – you may need to adjust as they grow
Water: After the seedlings emerge, you don’t need to water as frequently, let the soil dry out a little between watering. Too much water can lead to “dampening off” (a.k.a. dead plants)
Encouragement: Seedlings benefit from a bit of attention to make sure they are on the right track (just like puppies, kittens, or babies). Make sure you are turning trays for even light distribution, thinning crowded plants and ensuring good air circulation by brushing your hand over the leaves.
These small steps can lead to survival of the fittest for your seedlings and ensure that the plants you put in the garden are as strong and healthy as can be!
For more information about how to get started and some additional resources – check out my step by step guide for seed starting!
Good luck and Happy Spring! Ellen Robinson – Good to Grow Gardens