The process of growing plants from seeds is known as seed starting. After the seeds have grown into seedlings, they are transplanted into the garden. The advantage of this method is that it allows gardeners to grow crops earlier in the season, so that heat-loving plants have more time to mature and produce fruit. For growers with a short growing season, seed starting allows crops to mature before the weather changes.
Why Start Seeds Indoors Instead Of Buying Transplants?
You can save money by starting seeds indoors from a seed packet rather than buying plants at the nursery. This is also an effective way to control the nutrients and pesticides used during the growth of your plant. The types of plants you can get by seed is much more vast than what you will be able to purchase from your local nursery as a seedling.
An advantage of starting seeds indoors is that you can save money by harvesting seeds from your own plants.
Types of Seeds to Sow
Warm Weather Seeds
These seeds grow best in warm conditions. These seeds prefer warmer soil and cannot tolerate frost. Some of the most popular types of seeds to plant during warm weather are vegetables and flowers such as cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, beans, tomatillos, eggplant, peppers, basil, coleus, marigolds, zinnias, and nasturtiums.
Cold Weather Seeds
This means that the seeds can withstand cold weather and some can even handle a little bit of snow. Many cold weather seeds are best sown during the transition to cooler months when they are more likely to germinate. There are many types of seeds that grow well in cold weather, including lettuce, kale, broccoli, beets, radishes, peas, carrots, spinach, kohlrabi, parsley, cilantro, and cabbage.
Seed Starting Methods
Indoor Seed Starting
This method of growing plants involves sowing the seeds indoors using a growing medium. Indoor seed starting enables growers to begin growing their crops earlier in the season. Since the seeds are grown in a controlled environment, the germinating seeds are protected from harsh weather. Although it may be time-consuming, indoor seed starting can take up more space in your home. Most summer crops, slow-growing seeds, and hardy vegetables do well when started indoors.
This planting method seed involves planting the seeds directly into the soil. This is an easy way of sowing seeds because the seeds do not require much monitoring. You just need to put the seeds in the ground and water them regularly. Just plant the seeds in the ground and that’s all you have to do. You don’t need to worry about the lighting, transplanting, or potting. You won’t have to worry about transplanting shock once the seedlings start growing.
The seeds should only be planted when the season is right because they are exposed to the elements. For germination to occur, the soil must be prepared to encourage it. Cold-resistant seeds that grow quickly in warm weather, as well as plants that do not tolerate transplanting well, are best sown directly in the ground.
Containers and Growing Mediums for Seed Starting
If you want to improve this project, you can buy different seed starting containers and growing mediums. Here are just a few of the many to consider:
Cell packs are compact, lightweight, and portable seed containers. Soil containers with 4 to 6 cells are common, but some cell packs have more sections for growing seeds. Typically, you can fit multiple cells together into a plastic flat. Cell packs are perfect for use in a small-scale home environment because they are so compact.
If you’re looking to grow a lot of seedlings in a small space, a seedling flat is a great option. These high-density systems make the most of limited space, allowing you to get more plants in a single container. Most flats come with trays that can hold extra water and keep the soil from draining out. Seedling flats are best used in a professional setting, such as a nursery or greenhouse, and not for a small-scale home environment.
Soil blockers are made by compressing seed-starting soil in a way that it forms blocks or cubes. To plant the seed, put it in the middle of a soil blocker. Once the seedlings are ready, transplant the soil blocker into the ground. Soil blockers are available in different sizes, which makes them suitable for small and large greenhouses. Because these growing mediums are composed of dirt, you’ll need a special mat to protect the soil from moisture loss.
Biodegradable pots are typically made from cardboard pulp, dried coconut husks, paper, and even cow manure (aptly called cow pots). Pots that break down into the ground minimize transplanting shock. Pots are available in different sizes to fit different types of growing areas. You may want to seed start in biodegradable pots, but keep in mind that they are more expensive than other growing mediums. However, they are quite eco-friendly.
These are compact pots made from plastic. You can select the size and shape of pot that you need from the different options that are available. Seedling pots can be easily adjusted to accommodate the size of the plant and the number of plants you are growing. The pots on a water mat can be popped to regulate the soil moisture.
Top 10 Supplies Needed For Starting Seeds Indoors
- Seed starting cell trays or seed starting pots
- Sterile planting media (IE. seed starting soil mix)
- Shelf (this can be a basic shelf or an automated grow rack)
- Lights (LEDs or T5 shop lights)
- Watering Can or Mister
- Oscillating Fan
- Heat Mat
- Fertilizer (ie. fish fertilizer, compost/worm tea)
How Do You Create A Gardening Plan?
Before we get into starting your seed packets, let’s talk about creating an overall plan for your garden. This will help you determine how many packets you’ll need to start. If you want to save yourself time in the future, it’s a good idea to create a gardening plan. Making a plan on how you want to manage and harvest your land can be helpful in figuring out the most efficient way to use your land.
Be sure to check how much space your plants need before you plant them.
You should space out your plants, and also think about putting taller plants in the north part of your garden, and small plants in the south part. This will help you to avoid shading that could harm your crops.
For tiny seeds, plant them 4-6 inches apart. For larger seeds, plant them 12-18 inches apart.
How Do You Choose Seeds For Planting?
As a first-time grower, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice when it comes to seed selection. A few things must be considered when choosing seed varieties. What are the best vegetables to grow in your area, and what can you grow indoors?
Find the planting zone that your area is in and use that to help you decide which seed company will work best for you. First, decide what vegetables you and your family enjoy eating. Then, consider what will sell well in your area.
The last thing to consider is your skill level. If you are a beginner gardener, it is best to start with crops that are easy to grow. Here are some crops that we recommend: squash, lettuce, tomatoes, collard greens, bush beans, peppers, and melons. Pick varieties that are labeled as disease-resistant when possible. Create a garden plan by drawing your crops on paper.
How To Do A Germination Test For Seeds
- Place 5-10 seeds on a moist paper towel
- Keep the paper moist by placing it in a zip top bag.
- Check the seeds daily starting at 3 days and continuing for up to 14 days.
- Count the number of seeds that sprout and multiply by 20 for five seeds or by 10 for ten seeds. IE. 7 out of 10 seeds germinated you have a germination rate of 70%
- Plant as you usually would accounting for germination rate. IE. if your germination rate is 70% you should plant at least 5 seeds if you want to have 3 plants to transplant.
When Should I Start Planting Seeds?
To figure out when to plant your garden, find out the date of the last frost in your area and subtract 6-8 weeks from that date. By knowing this date, you will be able to determine the best time to plant. This will ensure that the seedlings have enough time to develop before the transplant date.
When determining when to plant your seeds, it is also beneficial to investigate various methods of seed germination. You can propagate seeds using cell trays, soil block trays, or small containers. Many people find that cell trays are a very effective way to grow more plants in a smaller area. It is essential to find the right size if you want to plant into cell trays. Different cell tray sizes are used for different crops and growth rates. To accommodate faster-growing crops, you’ll need trays with larger cells that can hold more potting soil. This will keep your seedlings growing for a longer period of time. Herbs can be started in smaller cells, however, slower-growing plants will need more space to grow.
What Is The Best Soil Mix For Starting Seeds?
Choose a good potting quality potting soil with these key features:
- Good drainage
- PH between 5-6.5
- Moisture retention
- Allows for airflow
It’s not only important to have plants with these qualities, it’s also important to use a clean mix that doesn’t have any seeds in it. When choosing potting soil, some key ingredients to look for are perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, coconut coir, compost, and a basic fertilizer or ground limestone.
How To Plant Into Cell Trays
Fill your cell trays halfway full with potting soil. place another cell tray on top of the cell tray you are using for planting After you rake the area where you want to sow seeds, use a hoe to lightly press the rake marks into the soil. This will help the seeds make contact with the soil so they can germinate. Scatter 2-3 seeds in each cell of the tray and cover them with the rest of the potting soil. Water your newly planted seeds liberally. After you have placed your plant cutting in the growing medium, you will need to cover it with a humidity dome and place it on a shelf or heat mat. The humidity level inside the dome will be perfect for your seeds to germinate. Be sure to label your seedlings!
How Often Should You Water Seedlings?
Seedlings should be watered daily. We recommend bottom watering seedlings using 1020 trays. The technique of wicking ensures that moisture is drawn from the bottom upwards. Watering your plants from the bottom up can save you time and prevent new seedlings from being damaged. Water your seedlings twice a day to prevent them from drying out, using a fine mist spray bottle if you prefer to topwater.
When To Transplant Seedlings From A Cell Tray?
After that, it’s transplanted time. After your seeds have been in their tray for about 6 to 8 weeks, it is time to transplant them. Once this timeframe has elapsed, you’ll either need to place the seedlings into larger pots, or transplant them outdoors. Consult the directions on your seed packets and take note of the last frost date in your area before moving young plants outdoors. A young plant will not successfully transplant if it does not have a developed root system. Watch for the development of the “true” leaves.
Hardening Off Seedlings
What Does Hardening Off Your Seedlings Mean?
Before you transplant your seedlings, you should expose them to the conditions they will face outside. This is called hardening off. Transplant shock is when a plant’s roots are disturbed, which can cause the plant to wilt or die. Hardening off your transplants will help to prevent this by acclimating them to their new environment. This will help them acclimate to their new environment. Bring your baby plants outside for a week before planting them in order to help them get used to the new environment.
5 Easy Steps To Harden Off Your Seedlings Before Transplanting.
- Place your tray of seedlings outside in an area protected from intense wind and direct sunlight for 2-3 hours a day for 3 days. Remember to bring them back inside at night.
- For the next 3-4 days place the seedlings outside in the mornings and bring them back in at night. Heat-loving crops can be in direct sun for this step but cooler season crops should still have at least midday shade.
- For 1-2 days before planting leave your trays in their protected space outside overnight.
- Stop watering your seedlings 18-24 hours before you plan to plant them. (This makes it easier to remove them from the trays.
- Plant out your seedlings and water well. If a late frost is predicted you can always cover your new plants with a frost blanket to protect them while they get established.
The newly planted seedlings are vulnerable to the elements, and need to be protected from the wind, insects, and birds. Insect netting is an excellent tool for this. Not only does insect netting protect plants from pests, but it can also prevent the spread of diseases. A Frost blanket can also be used to protect seedlings and plants if late frosts are predicted in your area or just to give them an extra bit of heat overnight. This is because the frost blanket material reflects back the heat from the ground, creating a microclimate around the plants underneath it.
Shade cloth or netting can provide protection for your new transplants. Plants need sunlight to grow, but too much sun can damage their leaves. Shade cloth helps protect plants from the sun’s harmful rays while still allowing them to get the sunlight they need. The shade cloth’s reflective coating helps to spread the light out more evenly, which is better for plant growth and health. The cloth also helps to keep the area around the plants cooler, which helps the plants to grow better.
Using beneficial insects is a great way to help protect your seedlings. The use of beneficial bugs helps keep pest numbers at a manageable level without risking the lives of pollinators by using chemicals. By using beneficial bugs, farmers can keep pests at a manageable level without putting pollinators at risk.