Starting plants from seeds is a fun and easy way to stretch those gardening dollars. Whether you are interested in annuals, perennials, herbs or vegetables you’ll find a great selection of seeds to start prior to planting out this spring. Of course you can also sow seeds directly into your garden beds. When you consider that a typical seed pack will contain upwards of one hundred seeds there is no better ‘bang for the buck’.
To sow seeds indoors you will just need a seed starting mix, seed box and tray. Most seed starting kits come complete with these items and a plastic cover to complete your own mini ‘greenhouse’. You will just need to sow the seeds thinly and evenly throughout the seed packs – usually just two to three seeds per cell. Press the seeds into the surface of the soil and cover with a thin layer of fine peat or soil. Next water gently and cover with your plastic cover to retain humidity until the seeds have sprouted, the remove the cover and allow air to circulate. Most seeds will germinate in about two weeks, but you can speed up the process with bottom heat. You can thin out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough that the leaves touch. You will need to time the process back from a couple of weeks past the last scheduled frost date. You can ‘harden’ off your seedlings in a cool, but not cold garage or breezeway to acclimate the seedlings prior to planting.
You can follow this process for just about all seeds, with the exception of some of the larger vegetable varieties that are sensitive to transplant shock. It is a good idea to start larger plants directly into larger pots or ‘peat pots’ that will require the amount of transplanting. You should always follow the instructions on the seed package to determine specific care instructions as well as the time need for germination and development.
Of course you can also sow seeds directly into the garden soil. You would be amazed at how you can add dozens of new plants from a single package of seeds. Mixing and matching the varieties can help you create specific gardens such as those that attract butterflies, or if you are ‘naturalizing’ a portion of your home landscape.
Some of the easiest plants to grow from seeds are annuals, especially those that ‘self-sow’, or grow from seeds they sow themselves. A few good examples are Alyssum, Calendula, Cosmos, Larkspurs, Nicotiana and even Impatiens! You just need to remember to leave some seed heads to fall onto ‘receptive ground’. Receptive ground is nothing more than friable soil that is raked out and free of weeds, stones and debris.
Nothing is more fun that starting seeds in the sometimes gloomy weeks and months prior to the spring. Of course you can always find expert advice from our staff. We are always here to help you with all of your gardening questions.