Photo: Como Homestead
Upon deciding what you want to plant, your natural course of action may be to go to a nursery and purchase those plants. From that point, most can be transplanted directly into your garden and will continue to grow and thrive. Though this method is convenient, it is not always practical or efficient for everyone. In some cases, it is easier and more logical, not to mention more economically feasible, to start seeds indoors instead.
Starting seeds indoors is a useful practice that allows you to get a jump on the gardening season. The decision to start seeds is largely dependent on what you plan to grown and the hardiness zone in which you live. For example, some seeds require more time to grow than a hardiness zone allows, making an indoor start necessary for them to grow. Additionally, starting seeds indoors saves money in comparison to buying plants already well on their way. It also gives you more choices regarding what you can grow since your local nursery likely only stocks mainstream plants and you may wish to try something different from time to time.
To begin the process of indoor germination, there are a few steps you must take. First of all, location is key. You want to find a warm, well-light area where plants can grow undisturbed. Once you have figured out where you wish to store your started sees, it is time to decide in what you will plant them. Many people opt to use specifically designed trays, but many other items work as well, such as egg shells, egg cartons, or toilet paper/paper towel tubes stood upright. Having selected your preferred option, fill each space with starter mix and plant seeds at the required depth according to the instructions on the seed packet. If you are planting various items, labelling them will come in handy down the road.
Once seeds are planted, continue to provide an environment in which they can thrive. This means ample light via sun and/or fluorescent bulb for a minimum of 12 hours daily. Temperature should be kept at a suitable level for the seeds in question (consult packet for required temperature) and humidity should be regulated as well, which can be done by covering seeds with a humidity dome. If needed, artificial heat can be supplemented until leaves appear. Soil should be kept moist at all times but never too wet.
After several inches of growth are present, assess sprouts and cut off those that are weaker in appearance. This will help your plant grow and thrive as a stronger being, especially as you now being to transplant into bigger containers and eventually the actual garden. At this point, once the final frost has passed, begin the process of hardening off by taking plants outside for a short amount of time each day. Gradually increase the amount of outside time over the course of a couple of weeks before taking the plunge and planting them in the garden.
With your new veggies planted, continue to give them the attention they need and soon your efforts will be rewarded. Continue to water as needed and tend to other needs that may arise as they grow. Be sure to move your labels with them into the garden so you will always be able to readily identify what is growing where before it becomes fully obvious. Then, once the veggies are fully mature, go ahead and enjoy the results of all your patience and hard work!Discuss in our forums