Growing plants from seed

Published: June 3, 2019

Seedling    

The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.
— Leo Buscaglia

I usually start planting seeds for my tomatoes, eggplant and peppers around 8-10 weeks before the last frost in my planting zone. For me in zone 7, that’s around the end of February so that I can ‘harden’ the seedlings around the beginning of April and plant them mid-April.

Choose your seeds from a good supplier (I like Burpee for most veggies and flower seeds and TheGarlicStore for amazing garlic), or sometimes I keep seeds from my plants from previous years. Just make sure they are kept in a dark area, in a dry container. I usually put them in an envelope after they have dried out in the open and I label it with the date and seed type, them in a sealed plastic container or paper box.

I have planting trays I use along with good seedling starter soil and a growing light I put them under so that they get enough light (10 or so hours a day).

If you want to try something totally different, I saw these seed sheets recently. For me, it takes the fun out of doing it all myself but if you’re in a hurry or want to simply things a little this may be an option!

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In summary the steps to growing your plants from seed are:

1. Select and buy the seeds you want to grow

2. Determine your zone and when your zone typically has its last frost

3. Look on the seed packets for instructions on when to start your seeds; usually the packet will say something like this – “Plant inside six to eight weeks before last frost.”

*** Note that some seeds can be planted directly into your planter outdoors and do not need to be started indoors ex. squash, zucchini, flowers, sunflowers, beans, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, spinach, radish.

4. Select the containers you want to grow your seeds in. I have tried a few and prefer the pots to be bigger with the ability to plant them directly into a raised planter, without transferring to another bigger container during the growing process.

5. Select good growing soil with nutrients for young plants. Once you have it in your growing containers, water the soil prior to adding the seeds. The soil should be soaked through but not like mud.

This is a brand I have used, and like.

6. Read the seed packet for how deep to plant the seed. I usually use the end of a pen to make a little hole as deep as the packet indicates and then drop a seed into it and carefully cover it up with some soil. I usually plant 2 – 3 seeds per container to ensure that at least 1 germinates. I (not happily) cut off the top of the other 2 if they also germinate to leave only one plant per container.

I like to keep my seeds in a box and I keep the original packet for the planting instructions. Keep them in a dry dark area to preserve them for future planting.

7. Water the seeds and soon germinated baby plants with a fine water mister. The soil should be moist but not soggy! Let the soil dry out a little between waterings – for me this means I water every second day or so. FYI – If you see mold appearing, you are watering too often.

8. Give them plenty of good, direct light! I keep my seedling trays next to a window in a closet that has a south-facing window, and I have a grow light on a timer that gives them full light for about 12-15 hours a day. As the seedlings grow, you should move the grow light to stay about 6 inches above them so that they don’t burn. FYI – if your seedlings are spindly they aren’t getting enough light.

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