Time to Get Seeds Started
If you haven’t already, it’s time to get seeds started.
Our last frost day was Mother’s Day so you can now safely sow seeds directly into your garden; the earlier, the better.
If you’re new to gardening, I recommend starting seeds in containers so that you get to know the different shapes of various plants. Knowing what they look like will help later when you have to thin plants so they’re not competing for space.
You can buy a variety of containers or use what you already have in your kitchen; cardboard egg cartons work well, as do clear plastic food containers like fast food plastic salad bowls with clear tops; styrofoam cups, even cardboard boxes.One of my favorite planting containers are used egg shells. Once sprouts are started, all you have to do is dig a hole to plant them, sprouts, egg shells and all.
If you’re using plastic salad bowls and styrofoam containers, punch a few holes in the bottom and add a plate underneath to catch water dripping through. You’ll also need something to catch moisture under anything out of cardboard. No need to punch holes; cardboard containers absorb water so you need something in case the cardboard disintegrates.
Choose a good new potting soil; don’t use soil from your garden or you may introduce diseases from last year’s crops.
Moisten soil by spraying water to make it damp. Fill containers about 2/3rds full, then shake to help soil settle.
Add seeds. Usually bright, shiny seeds are hybrids and may be treated with chemicals so only handle with gloves. Heirloom seeds tend to be flat and pale colors and can be handled with your hands. You can also save heirloom plant seeds to plant next year or if the winter is mild, plants will volunteer all on their own.
In general, the smaller the seed, the less soil it will need to sprout. Check seed packets for instructions to double check how deep to plant seeds; water again. Stuff the seed packet under the container or add a label so you know what seeds you’ve planted.
Thicker seeds, like morning glories and nasturtiums, need a little nick on the side of the seed, and a day of soaking in water to get a good start.
Add a covering of some sort – thin plastic bags and clear plastic container tops keep seeds cozy. If you leave them outside, definitely put a cover over them to keep birds from helping themselves.
If you’re starting seeds inside, the top of a refrigerator is a nice spot as long as a cat doesn’t decide that spot will also make a good napping spot.
Make sure to check seeds daily and keep them watered but not soggy. A spray bottle is a great way to control how much water you’re adding to those small containers.
Once you see seeds sprouting, take a good look at their shape and size. You will soon be able to distinguish sprouting peppers from tomatoes and zinnias from watermelons!
Transplant to planting pots, or to the garden, once seedlings are a couple of inches high. Used popsicle sticks make good plant labels and help you keep track of what you’re planting.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins shares her gardening, and beekeeping adventures at http://www.bluebirdgardens.com/gardening_to_distraction. Copyright 2012 all rights reserved used with permission.