Guest post by Sarah from Renaissance Mama!
In some parts of the country, growing seasons are just not long enough! In the summer, extreme heat will kill our seedlings, or it will get too cold before they are fully grown. Many people buy seedlings from the store but this can get costly quick.
Thankfully, starting your own seedlings from (heirloom!) seeds inside is easy and fun! If you were planting in the spring, you need to find out the average last frost date for your area and count backyards to determine when to start your seeds. Tomato plants, for example, can be started from seed six or seven weeks before the last frost date.
Most vegetables can be started indoors if you want to get a jump-start on your garden while it’s still cold outside, but any root crops (like potatoes, radishes, carrots, turnips, etc…) should be planted directly into the ground.
You can buy containers for your seedlings online (they have all kinds from basic plastic trays or more expensive ones with heat mats) or at pretty much any store that has gardening supplies. Or, you can make your own out of recycled materials. Recycled milk cartons make excellent containers for starting seeds. Just make sure you poke a hole in the bottom for drainage. You can also use toilet paper rolls!
You can use clear plastic wrap or plastic bags to enclose your flats and encourage germination. You want the temperature to be about 70 degrees for optimum growth.
You don’t want to use plain garden soil for your seedlings, since the dirt will clump and be too difficult for the roots of young seedlings to penetrate. You can buy seed starting mix, or you can make your own out of peat moss, sand, and compost.
Number of Seeds
You’ll typically want to put 2-3 seeds in each section since not all of the seeds will germinate. If more than one does germinate then you can choose which seedling to keep. Become very familiar with the back of your seed packets because they will tell you exactly how deep and when to plant your seeds! It’s very important not to cover your seeds more than recommended!
Can you tell the seedlings apart just by looking at them? Me either. So definitely be sure to label your seedlings so that you know what you are growing. You might also want to jot down the day you planted them and how long it took for the seeds to germinate just so you have that for future reference (and it would make a great science experiment for the kids too!)
Be careful not to let your soil blocks dry out. You will need to water them daily and it is recommended to use warm (not hot) water for the first day or two. Then once the seeds have germinated use water that’s a little above room temperature. You´ll want to provide the new seedlings with plenty of light so set them near an open window, or if it´s too cold, under a shop light.
Keep the seedlings indoors until all chance of frost has passed.
- Tip #6: Use Heirloom Seeds
- Tip #5: Use Vertical Space
- Tip #4: Figure out your planting strategy
- Tip #3: How to design your garden bed
- Tip #2: How to choose a garden location
- Tip #1: Figure out your gardening goals
|Sarah graduated from Baylor with a major in bioinformatics and is now making that degree work hard by raising her two kiddos and keeping her husband relatively well fed. In her quieter moments, she can be found enjoying a homemade chai latte and reading on her Nook. You can also find her over at Renaissance Mama, on Facebook, and on Twitter!|
http://blog.vegenag.com/2010/03/seed-starting-indoors-video/ this is a really good video on seed starting.
We used a premade shelf from Homedepot and tied the lights onto the shelves so they would shine below. The last person to go to sleep would turn it off and the first one up would turn on the lights. I found milk jugs were too wide and not deep enough. The large yogurt and cottage cheese cups work wonderfully if you drill a few holes in the bottom.