This year I find myself without a garden to call my own, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be planting anything this year. Actually, we’ll probably be planting our largest garden to date.
Now that I live a scant 40 minutes away from my parents, I can live my farm dream vicariously through them and take part in what they have going on.
Last year the ground was sopping wet with all of the rain, so many of the baby plants drowned. My dad tried multiple times to replant, but the rain just kept on coming and they ended up with a much smaller garden than normal. Even though my dad remains a bit skeptical due to last year’s issues, my mom and I have large hopes for this year’s garden.
Before we can plant in the garden, we must first start many of the seeds indoors so they can germinate into beautiful baby plants which we can then transfer out to the garden. Not all plants need to be started indoors, but there are many that have a longer growing season. These need to be started indoors in order to be ready for harvest when we need them, or before the first frost of the year. If you’re not quite ready to delve into starting plants from seed before transplanting to the garden, no need to worry. Many garden centers and home improvement stores have pre-started plants ready for you at the appropriate times during the season.
Sorting the Seeds
My dad has had a garden my whole life, but it was only within the last 10 years that he began starting many of his seeds indoors instead of buying plants pre-started. Regardless, that still means he’s been doing this a while, has a much better system, and is much more organized than I ever was. I have a lot to learn from him. Yay!
This also means he had many seeds that we needed to go through. Each year my dad stores any unused seeds in a large pickle jar in the refrigerator, so we needed to sort these by type as well as the package date. The older the seeds are, the less likely they are to germinate; although my dad has had some pretty good luck getting seeds to germinate even when they’re a few years old.
Once the older seeds were sorted out into piles, we added the new seeds that were just bought to the respective piles. Just to note: These seeds are all still in their seed packages.
Deciding What to Plant
Once we were able to see what we had, we began figuring out which ones we needed to start. This seed-starting day was in March. A few of the seeds we had could have benefited from being started a little earlier, but better late than never.
There are a few factors to take into consideration when starting your seeds. You need to know what gardening zone you are in, for us that is Zone 6. A quick internet search will tell you what your zone is if you don’t know.
How long is the germination rate and when do you want to get the plant transplanted out into the garden? If you plant too early, you risk your plants outgrowing your containers if it’s not warm enough outside to transplant. If you plant too late, you risk not being able to harvest at the optimal time for the plant. Don’t worry too much though, there is some wiggle room.
How Much Do you Plant?
Well, how much do you want to harvest? Do you want just a small garden with enough veggies to harvest through the summer? Or do you also want to preserve some of the veggies for winter use? You’ll also need to take into consideration that some of your little seedlings will die before transplanting or not even germinate, so planting a few more than you think you’ll need is a good idea. Even if every single plant germinates, grows, and transplants beautifully, you don’t need to plant all of them if you don’t want to. Someone will be more than likely willing to take them off your hands. It’s much better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and realize you could have used it.
Here’s What We Did… (although I can’t remember all of the quantities)
- 20 Bell Peppers (2 Different Varieties)
- 2 Jalapeno Peppers
- 2 Chili Peppers
- 36 Tomatoes (3 Different Varieties)
- Collard Greens
Gather your supplies:
– Seed Starting Tray – It has a base for water, the units for planting the seeds, and a humidity dome. (We used this type – affiliate link)
– Seed Starter Soil Mix (Like this one – affiliate link)
– A Spray Bottle with Water for Watering the Seeds
– Extra Water
– Your Seeds
– Paper, Pen, and Tape to label your seedlings
– Grow lights or a sunny location (We built this grow light shelf a few years ago)
Plant your seeds:
1a. Fill each planting unit with soil
1b. If desired, cut the tray into smaller sections
2. Put your desired seeds in each unit. You’ll want to do 3 seeds to a pod/unit in a triangle pattern, in order to space it just enough for each seedling to grow independent of the others.
3. Add more soil to each unit so that the seeds are just lightly covered.
4. Before moving on to another seed, label your seeds by attaching a small piece of paper with the name of the plant written on it to the edge of the unit with the tape.
5. Using the mist setting on the spray bottle, mist the tops of your finished seed trays.
6. Fill the base of the tray with 1/2 – 1 inch of water, then place the units in the base.
7. Fit the lid on top, and place under your grow lights or in a sunny location.
That pretty much concluded our seed starting adventure. We’ll keep an eye on the plants and keep them moist. In a couple of weeks, there will be more seeds to start. I know we’ll be doing cucumbers and watermelon – there was one more, but I don’t remember what that was right now.
I’d love to hear about your seed starting or garden adventures! Please feel free to share in the comments!
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Here’s another post you might like:
Growing an Indoor Culinary Herb Garden