Whether flowers or vegetables, keeping alive your favorite plants and letting them refresh in the new year is always an option. It’s not too late to start with some seeds. Some key rules and tips will help your seed adventure end in success.
Starting seeds can be easy from the comfort of inside, under the right conditions. Chances are, you have the perfect conditions set inside for your comfort, now to utilize that for your seeds. Depends on what you are growing from seed, you likely will start with more seeds than you will anticipate to plant outside, or if you are super adventurous, you might hope to end up with lots of seedlings for not only your garden but a neighbors as well.
Recycling containers to start your seeds is not only super convenient, especially if you have the specific one you want on-hand, but also very environmentally and fiscally friendly. Egg containers, yogurt cups, paper cups or even some food trays (think vegetable/fruit packaging not meats), anything that gives you 2-3 inches minimum of depth for your dirt will work. You can also purchase specialty containers from various garden outlets as well. If you are using your own, preparation for seeds includes 2 simple steps. First, thoroughly clean; secondly; make sure you add drainage holes to the bottom.
Next, let’s talk soil. Best scenario is to use fresh seedling mixture, not to re-use from other elsewhere. If you are working with very finicky seeds, you may want to follow the seed directions for specific soil blends. In a separate large container, dampen your soil and mix it thoroughly, before putting 2-3 inches in the container. Make sure the soil is still crumbly and not sopping wet. This step will help ensure you have a consistent water level throughout to help your seeds to germinate.
Know your seeds, some like to be shallow and some deeper. Some like to have more room to grow and others more crowded, this is essentially to know how many to place per container/space. Once you have nestled the seeds in place, moisten the top with a mister. To help speed up germination, cover with a seedling cover or plastic wrap. As soon as you see germination, remove and get rid of the cover.
Next steps are simply on repeat. Water and let dry. Repeat. Make sure you give your seedlings lots of light. A set up near a window is ideal, rotating if you think you aren’t getting even light. If you don’t have good light and want to use an artificial light, use a timer and set for 15 hours of light, close enough to maximize growth, but far enough away to not burn your seedlings, think a few inches. If you really want a boost, you can use a liquid fertilizer after a couple of weeks.
The most successful transplantation includes a gradual process. The shift from inside to outside is not to be underestimated. The easiest way to transition, is to take your seedlings on field trips outside every day. Start by bringing them into a protected part of your garden, protected by wind and sun. Gradually increase the amount of time your seedlings spend outside, and slowly acclimate it to the sun most favored by the plant (i.e. if it like morning sun, let it get morning sun).
After a week or so of field trips, your seedlings are ready to be transferred full time to their forever home, in your garden. Be mindful of spacing guides and root depths. Don’t forget to continue to care for your seedlings with regular water and fertilizers and recommended based on their variety.