Seed Starting

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, people seem to be scared to start their vegetable gardens from seed! Many of my friends purchase these same seedlings from me a few weeks or months down the road, when for the cost of a packet of seeds and a fish through the recycling bin they could do it themselves.

Its not that scary!  Here's how:

First off, get organized.  There's no point in starting seeds you won't use, and why start some early if you end up having to do more later?  Make sure you know approximately how much of what you want to grow in a season, then start a few extra.  Once you know what you're going to grow, make a plan when you're going to grow it.  Use this awesome seed starting chart from YouGrowGirl together with the Farmers Almanac chart for last frost dates for when to start each type of seed.

I always spread out a shower curtain first to protect my work surface from soil or mess, ideally near the windowsill I plan to grow in.  Very few supplies are necessary other than the seeds themselves.  If you want to get fancy, Dollarama has some great seed starting kits, but honestly - I find recycling the clamshell takeout containers I get at the market to be just as effective.  Poke holes in the bottom of them with a pushpin or nail.  Wash everything in hot soapy water and rinse in cool water with a splash of bleach.  Seed starting soil mix is a must, potting soil is simply too heavy.  I use BM2 which I get through my school's greenhouse, but most garden centers should carry a seed starting mix, or you could otherwise make your own from a mixture of peat, perlite and lots of vermiculite.

Dampen the soil and spread it into just the bottom half of the takeout containers.  Sow seeds evenly across the surface of the soil mix.  Larger plants like tomatoes, peppers, vegetables need more space between seeds while herbs, lettuces, basil etc can be seeded quite closely together.  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the seeding mixture or a layer of pure vermiculite.  Closing up the lid of the containers acts like a miniature greenhouse!  Place all of the containers into a tray and place the tray on a warm spot.  In my house I have conveniently large Victorian air vents, so my seeds are spread out across the floor, but the tops of radiators, refrigerators, front loading dryers and any other warm appliances are good if risky spots!  Continue to mist regularly with a spray bottle and ensure all layers are evenly damp but not wet.  If the containers dry out too much, pour a thin layer of water into the bottom of the tray.  Open the lids for air circulation occasionally, more often if they don't have very large holes.  Keep an eye for sprouts because they grow quickly and hit the "roof" before you know it!

What I planted today: Tree and Twig Heirloom Seeds: Perpetual Spinach, Suehlihung, Nasturtiums, Cherrybelle RadishesSSE Lettuce Mixture & more self-saved tomatoes!

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