by Nicole White
The planting process
• Seed starting
• Transplanting from little "greenhouses" to trays or pots
• Growing indoors until 3rd week of May
• Hardening Off ~1 week (or until they are ready)
• Outdoor planting into the garden
Benefits of growing your own seed
One of the wonders of growing your own seeds is you get to choose which variety you want to grow and eat. The seed catalogs are amass with all sorts of choices. Box stores and even greenhouses only select a few varieties, which they feel will sell. You can also pick varieties that are known to have more phytonutrients, which are good for your health. Other things to think about include your growing season (long or short) and disease pressures.
• The objective is to create a warm moist environment for your seeds to germinate.
• Easily done with a closed container with cellophane over top. Plastic or glass top will work equally well.
• Want to create a greenhouse environment.
• The best indoor dirt is dirt that isn’t dirt, which is usually made of sphagnum moss, etc. If you use potting soil, it tends to get very dense when wet and will suffocate or drown your roots.
• The best potting soil is that specifically listed for seedlings. Most seedling potting soil* is soilless. Soilless means that it’s usually peat moss or sphagnum moss with some perlite in it. If you use outdoor soil, it is not sterile and will compact indoors. Your seedlings will die due to compaction (no air for the roots). The roots will also rot due to too much water. And lastly, they may give in to disease due to live organisms in your garden soil. Kmart has a really nice seed starting** mix that is organically certified; it’s the only one they offer this year.
• Water the dirt enough to get it wet but not make it soggy.
• Errors occur where the dirt becomes too wet and your seeds will rot.
• Errors also occur with underwatering:
- Wet dirt is slightly dark or black-colored
- Dry dirt tends to be become brown or light brown
• Solution - DO OVER!
• Easiest and most ideal plant lamps are fluorescent shop lights:
- Find at hardware store or Craigslist or garage sales
• Place lamps directly over the seedling (almost touching):
- Keep the light almost touching all the time
- Move the lamps up as the seedling grows
- Always keep the lamps almost touching the leaves. If not, they will get leggy.
• Indoor lighting needs to be on for more than 8 hours day:
- I use a timer set for 16 hours (8 hours in the dark)
- You must mimic the sunlight in terms of letting night set in
*Sold at New England Nurseries - Espoma Organic Seed Starter mix.
**Sold at Kmart - Greenworld Organic Seed Starting and Herb mix.