Going through seed and garden catalogs while it’s snowing outside is a joy for many gardeners. The catalogs have bright pictures, enticing descriptions, and the latest garden gadgets. Spring can’t get here soon enough! But you don’t have to wait for spring to get a jump start on your garden.
Have you ever bought seeds and not known what to do with them? Or planted them with little success? Your luck is about to change. Starting your garden from seed is a great way to save money and get the varieties you want and you only need a few supplies to do it.
- Seedling mix: These are finer than regular potting mixes. Composed of peat, coir, perlite, and compost (or some combination of these), a seedling mix will hold moisture while allowing air movement. Using your watering can, wet and knead your soil. This is a crucial step! If you don’t properly hydrate it, your potting mix will never hold water like it’s supposed to.
- Pots: I use two-inch square pots made of flexible plastic. This size is big enough to start seeds and keep them until you’re ready to plant outside. Another reason I use them is that eight of these pots fit perfectly in a salad container:
- Empty salad container: every time I buy a one-pound salad mix, I keep the container. The plastic is transparent, the lid helps keep moisture in (and pets out) while the seeds are sprouting, and you can water your seedlings by pouring water right into the container (not onto the soil where you might wash seedlings away). They’re also easy to carry to your garden once it’s time to plant.
- Fill Pots: Fill pots with soil and compact lightly, leave ½” of space for seeds and vermiculite.
- Planting: plant two seeds per pot in opposite corners. For larger seed, make sure you plant them root-side down (this will speed up their growth). For smaller seeds, place them flat on the surface.
- Vermiculite: Cover seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite. It will improve air flow, reduce rotting, and be easy for the seedlings to push through.
- Seedling Heat Mat: Place planted pots inside salad container on top of seedling heat mat. These are thin and flexible, and some come with rheostats so you can adjust the temperature. The ones I have fit a flat or three salad containers side by side.
- Lights: I use LED shop lights on an adjustable pully system, so they can be raised as the seedlings grow.
- Fan: Once your seedlings sprout, remove the lid from the salad container and place a small fan nearby. Air circulation will make seedling stems hardier.
That’s it! With a few supplies, you can get a head start on your garden and brighten up your home. Happy gardening!
By Rachael Bush