They’re here!!! Your seeds have arrived, you’ve purchased some potting soil and you’re ready to get started. You may have noticed that some of your seed packets suggest sowing directly (outdoors) and either they indicate a minimum temperature requirement or they state that you should wait until after the last frost. Other seeds require starting indoors. I typically separate my seeds into two groups, start indoors or direct sow, and go from there.
If you’re planning a small herb garden in your kitchen window then they can be planted any time. On the other hand, if you’re planning to do your growing outside then you’ll need to do a little research. The first step in outlining your planting schedule will be to determine the hardiness zone in which you live. I’ve found that not only does the Urban Farmer website offer a map of USA planting zones but it also provides a number of resources that can help with your growing process such as planting calendars, companion planting guidelines and pest management techniques. (https://www.ufseeds.com/learning/)
Now that you’ve learned your growing zone and established a timeline, based on a planting calendar for your area, you can take a look at the back of those seed packets and pick out the things that need to be started now. If you have multiple “start indoors” dates sometimes it helps to write the date they need to be sewn right on the front of the packet. For example, I start my pepper and tomato plants inside 10-12 weeks before I move them outdoors but my cantaloupes only need to be started about 2-3 weeks before transferring them to my garden.
You’re ready. You have your seeds, your soil and small containers to sow your future seedlings in. These containers can be anything, from egg cartons to purchased seed starter kits and everything in between. Remember that even those plastic six-packs of flowers that you bought last spring can be re-purposed to start seeds. I’ve done some planting today and opted to up-cycle an egg carton. This is my first time growing eggplant so I thought I’d share the experience with you from the very beginning.
Starting seeds does not have to be complicated. I filled my egg carton with organic seed starting mix purchased this morning at Walmart. Nothing fancy, just a decent generic mix by Jiffy. Then I poked 1/4″ holes in the soil and dropped a single seed into each hole. I planted 3 seeds per cup and plan to transplant them into individual containers after germination. I then used a spray bottle to moisten the soil and put the entire carton on a heating mat in a sunny window. If you have a window that receives direct sunlight the heating mat may not be necessary but my gardening window only gets indirect light this time of year so the heating mat helps speed up germination and growth rates. If you’ve chosen a seed starting kit that comes with a greenhouse topper, I strongly encourage you to use it. Not only will it keep the temperature up but it will trap in moisture and prevent pets from disrupting your seedlings. After planting, you will want to keep your seeds moist but not completely saturated. Believe it or not there is such a thing as too much water. Simply put, if your soil looks dry then you should water it but if it appears damp then leave it alone.
That’s it. You’ve planted your seeds and put them in a sunny window. Now the waiting game begins. In the meantime, keep an eye on your other “start indoors” dates and plant as necessary. If you’re planning to grow cold weather vegetables like lettuce, carrots, peas, etc. then your direct sow dates will be here before you know it! Should you have any specific questions please feel free to reach out via my contact tab. I’m happy to help!!