Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Indoor Seed Starting

 You got your seeds all gathered together and now you are ready to get them growing!
 Starting your seeds correctly will take you far this growing season.

Gather these things:
  • Seed packets. Purchased at the store or mail-order. Check the backs of the packets to make sure they can be started indoors and not outdoors (direct sowing). The back of the packet will also tell you when you should start the seeds prior to your local areas last frost. The Farmer's Almanac can help you determine the best dates.
  • Plant markers or wooden popscile sticks.
  • Containers. Purchased, saved containers from last years plants or reuse kitchen food containers. The options are endless.
  • Seed starting soil mix. Purchased and sterile. Don't dig up your yard as that soil contains bacteria. Don't give your seedlings a disease to fight off the bat.
Growing your own food and flowers from seed is very gratifying and economical (cheap). You can also prolong your growing season if you are faced with harsh winters like we are in Wisconsin. You can grow more varieties than your local nursery carries. Maybe you want to try growing yellow tomatoes or purple watermelon.

Where are you going to put these planters? Be conscience of the space you have to for these plants to grow in. Do you have limited space? Prioritize your seeds by space. For us we like to grow tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, peppers, and broccoli. Think about the sunlight they will need when they sprout or you can purchase a grow light at your local nursery.

Place containers in a larger one that is waterproof, to collect any run off water from the plant containers. We use an under the bed plastic storage bin and then place the saved planting containers from last year in it. Arrange the containers to maximize space.
You can purchase an all in one system and they are less than 5 dollars for one flat and you can reuse this year after year.

Then fill the containers with seed starting mix almost to the top. We purchase Jiffy Seed Starting Mix from Wal-mart. You can also use vermiculite or shredded moss.

Seeds only need water, air and warmth to germinate.

Water the almost filled containers with warm water until the soil is moist. Watering before you place your seeds will ensure that the seeds don't get washed into the corners of the containers.

Place your seeds on top of the soil. I always plant several seeds in each container as some seeds just don't germinate. You can always thin out the plants at a later time. Then top off the container with a small amount of soil.

Now stop and label your plants with your preferred plant markers. You can label the whole row or the individual plants. We used craft popsicle sticks and a permanent marker.

You can cover the planting container with the clear greenhouse cover if you have one. Don't put plants in a closed plastic bag as can cause mold to grow. You can place the planting trays in the sunny location or you can place them in a warm location to germinate. A warm location might be on top of the water heater, top of the refrigerator or by a heating vent. Or you can buy a heated germination mat. Most seeds germinate between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally we don't have one of these mats. We place the trays in a sunny window and let the sun heat the soil.

Keep the soil moist but not wet. Check the soil every few days to see if re-watering is needed.

Then just wait to see the first signs of green poking through the soil in about 1 to 2 weeks.