Starting seeds indoors is a little different from starting seeds directly in the ground outside. I do not start very many of my plants indoors, but I do start the ones I want to get an extra early start, like broccoli and cabbage.
The problem with starting seeds indoors is the fact that you are supplying all the needs for that plant to grow and thrive. This means the growing medium must be right on, the temperature must be correct, the light has to be just right and they need constant moisture, sounds like we are raising a pet.
To start a seed you need soil to grow it in and we discussed that in an earlier post, so we will not go into that here. Get your preferred medium to start your seeds. I like to moisten the “potting” soil before sowing the seeds.
If you water after placing the seed you can wash the seed out of the soil, flush it over to the side of the pot where you do not want it or cover it too deep. Soaking the soil first makes sure the soil is moist through out the mixture and not just on top.
I have a tray with a dome lid that I use to start a lot of plants. It is easy to pour water in the bottom of the tray to keep the pots moist and the dome holds moisture in so the soil does not dry as fast. Be careful about over watering. There is a disease called damping off that can attack the seedlings while still in the pot. To read an article on damping off go to http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8041.pdf .
It is very disheartening to have a tray of seedlings growing tall and all of a sudden they start to wilt. One day you will have an upright plant, the next it is flat on the soil. If this happens to you get the healthy plants out of the post as soon as possible, wash the soil off the roots and repot the plants.
You will rarely have problems if you will use a soil mix like I explain in the other post. Using compost in your potting mix helps to overcome the fungus that attacks the plants.
Ok, have the soil ready? Now, place a couple of seeds in each pot. You want to plant two seeds to insure you get one plant. Some seeds will not geminate. Usually, you are planting small seeds and they can be difficult to handle.
I like to use a lead pencil or a sharp wooden dowel to plant each seed. Just wet the pencil in water and touch it to the seed. The moisture will pick up the seed and you can transfer it to the pot. Tedious I know, but rewarding.
A garden heating pad and grow light is the best way to go if you want to spend the money. I just place the pots in a warm place, like on top of the refrigerator, until they start to sprout. If using a heating pad and light it is best to use a sensor to keep the temperature at the correct setting, small seedlings like it warm, and keep the grow light just above the seedlings.
After the seedlings are up and growing keep them lightly moist. When they start to set true leaves, the first leaves are not true leaves, you can put a little fish fertilizer in a watering can or mister bottle and give them a shot of plant food. Don’t overdo the fertilizing as it can cause more harm than good. We good strong healthy plants not plants that will out grow themselves and not be good fruit producers.
As it gets close to time to set the plants in the garden soil give them some time outside in the sun and wind every day. This will get them accustomed to the sun and toughen them up for the life in the real world.
The above information should give you a start on growing your own plants. Starting your own plants allows you to get the type of plant you want and they are much cheaper than buying the plant ready to plant.
We will cover more about starting plants in other posts.
Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.
Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.