Monday, March 3, 2014

Seed Starting

 First, I gather my supplies.  From left to right:
1. My computer.  Why? has a fantastic planting calendar.  All you do is enter the zip code, or city, landmark, etc. where you live and it generates a planting guide for you.  It tells you when to start your seeds inside, when to transplant and when to plant outside based on the frost dates in your area.  Here is the link to their calendar:
2. My seeds.  I like to plant a variety of seeds and I finally organized them this year.  I cut some scrap paper for dividers and put them all in ABC order.  So much better than digging through my huge pile.
3. Potting mix - most local nurseries sell something for starting seeds in particular.  That's what I buy.
4. Trays without holes in them.  These are sold at local nurseries as well, but I improvise too with anything I find of a similar depth.
5.  A watering bottle of some kind.  I use an old dish soap bottle, it works perfectly with watering these small plants.
6.  Little planting containers.  Again, these are at most local hardware stores and nurseries.  I like the plastic ones because I reuse them each year.  The biodegradable ones are nice, because they will eventually join the dirt in my garden and I can write directly on them.  Sometimes it seems like my smaller plants can't push through the paper on their own, so I usually rip the paper off when I put them in the garden and just mix it in with the soil somewhere or throw them in the compost.
7.  It's always a good idea to mark what you have planted.  I just used the wrapping on the outside of the seed cups, but you can buy markers as well.
8. I use a small garden trowel and sharpie as well and a towel so that my husband doesn't get too upset at the mess.
9.  This wire shelving unit works perfectly for starting seeds and later it becomes a storage unit for the produce.  I also use florescent bulbs to make certain that my seeds get all the light they need and I try to place them in the sunniest part of the house as well.
 I start by filling the planters.  I fill them all the way to the top, because the dirt will compact once you add water.
 Next, I add water.  I add just enough to moisten the dirt.

 Then, I tamp down the dirt lightly - not too hard - you don't want the dirt to be solid or overly compacted.
 Then, I add seeds.  These are broccoli seeds.  I am really hoping for one solid broccoli plant per planter, so I planted two seeds (just in case one of them wasn't viable).
 Next, I use my handy little trowel to add a small layer of dirt on top.  Most seeds like to be about 1/4" deep, but the back of most seed packets will give specific details for each seed type.
 Then, I water my seeds lightly once more.
 With these cardboard planters, I write the seed names directly on the pot with a sharpie.

 Nurseries will also sell these heat accelerator mats.  I have used them in the past, but they dry out the plants very quickly if you are not on top of it.  Being a working mom, I never have had much luck.
 And...done, at least for today.  Tomorrow I will start more seeds and add the grow lights.  Notice that my seeds are near a sunny window in my house - I will use grow lights on the lower levels, but let sunlight do the trick up top.  This year I am only planting the two upper levels, because I have a 20 month-old who will be all into anything on the bottom two shelves.

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