Hey Spring is around the corner. Are you ready to start your garden?
Today officially marks the start of gardening season for me. I will start planting my indoor seeds for spring planting. I usually start with spring planting on April 1. Today I wanted to talk about starting your seeds indoors and what are some good plants for this.
Spring is a great time of year. We are starting to see the end of winter coming soon. The days are longer. So this transition into summer is a wonderful time to get your garden ready for planting. So instead of just direct sowing the seed when the time is right you want to start some seeds. Why would we do this?
- We don’t want to buy from our local nursery. Local nurseries are great, but we have decided we want to learn how to plant indoors and transplant when the time is right.
- We can get many more varieties of seed than what’s available at the nursery.
- We like to grow things.
There are many variables in starting your own seed. To get the best result we need to understand how a seed germinates.
Seeds are usually part of the dying process of the plant. In the fall as the plant dies back it releases seed. Usually many hundreds of seeds are in each plant. Why so many seeds? It is the law of averages. When the seeds fall to the ground some are not able to germinate. Why? Many reasons. Bad soil condition, food for other animals, not enough water, etc. So a plant release many more seeds than it needs to survive. As this seed falls to the ground it gets covered by other organic matter. This matter forms a layer above and around the seed, protecting it somewhat during the cold winter. You see the conditions for each type of seed are different. A lettuce may need cooler conditions than a squash seed.
So spring comes and this seed in buried under all of this organic matter. As the days get longer and the sun becomes higher in the sky, the seed “senses” this. You see, inside the seed are all the things it needs to become a beautiful vegetable. So you are thinking how harsh the conditions for a seed are, and you would be wrong. Under this organic matter is water, soil, nutrients. The seed is protected from the elements. When the time is right the seed sprouts. It goes up looking for what? The sun. You see in order for the seed to become a plant it has to convert the suns energy into growing tall. Then spring comes and the rains come to water this little plant. It grows taller and taller until it can sustain itself. Seeds have a inherent “intelligence”. They know what they are to do. So when you plant a seed you have to consider the things it needs.
Planting seeds requires good soil, good light and good water. Neglecting one of them will put the plant in jeopardy. We start our seeds indoor to give it the best chance of success. We can give it the proper light, right amount of water, and good soil. In my experience there have been two issues. One is having the light too close. I had my lights too close and it was too hot for the plants and they thought it was summer and the spinach started to bolt. The second is having the light too far away. If you are having spindly plants then the light is too far away. Best to start over.
Light is a very important part of seed starting. Plants need about 12-16 hours of light. For this reason it is very hard to start plants in a window sill here in the United States. We just do not have enough light in the spring during the day. I have a timer set up for the lights to come on and off at a certain time.
In the initial stages of growth your seeds will need constant watering(misted) until they develop the proper root structure. Once the root structure develops then I usually just poor some water in the bottom of the pan.
As your seedlings get somewhat larger you will be able to keep the best one (you did plant more than one seed in each?). By cutting the best one (usually with a knife) you will have the strongest plant.
As they get larger you will want to start hardening off the plants. Hardening off is the process of taking the plant from its indoor state to outdoor state. When the plants are all nice and cozy inside and go outside they will go through shock. This shock may kill the plant. I harden off by taking the plant outside for about a week before I put them in the ground. Start with about 1-2 hrs a day and increase every day by 1-2 hrs. By the end of the week your plants should be ready to put into the ground.
What if the weather does not cooperate? Then you can pot up the plant. This is the process of increase the amount of soil around the plant. It will then grow stronger and be ready to go outside when the weather allows.
Remember no matter where you live you can grow some of your own food. Apartment dwellers can always put a few pots outside and grow almost anything a person with a backyard can grow. Be creative, have fun and enjoy your food.
Come summer you will be glad you planted your little/big garden. Nothing tastes better than food you have grown yourself. Once the hook is in, you will be ready to be reeled into the wonderful world of feeding yourself. I started with no garden 3 years ago and now I have 5 raised beds and the whole perimeter of my backyard is filled with wonderful food. We just ate this week our last winter squash.
Happy Gardening. What are you going to plant this year?
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