Monday, March 9, 2015

Top Tips for Planting Seeds Indoors

Sowing seeds is one of the most awesome gardening adventures! If you've not had success, try these tips. Everyone CAN grow amazing plants from seeds. There is so much more to know that what is on the back of the seed packet.

Tip #1/ Pick easy to grow varieties for your planting zone. It's exciting to grow unusual varieties, and I often do. But always plant a regular variety too! If the exotic doesn't do so well, you'll always have a backup. An easy to grow variety will flourish. The exotic is bonus!

These yellow lovelies are cucumbers. Just stunning.

My backup? A plain, green pickling variety. Different varieties grown side by side make it easy to compare growth patterns, health, and yields.

Tip #2/ Use a seed starting kit. Really, use it! I have seen so many cute designs on Pinterest from egg cartons and other materials. In my experience, they get moldy and gross. Not ideal for plants. Use the right tools for the job.

Tip #3/ Plant 2-3 seeds per peat pot. Some seeds will not grow. If only one is planted per pot, you'll have empty pots. Empty pots are frustrating and completely avoidable. An extra seed in the peat pot will ensure beautiful green seedlings!

Tip #4/ Don't cover your seeds until you've planted them all. Inevitably, you'll get interrupted and forget where you stopped planting. So just wait until all rows are planted to cover them. M likes to push the seeds down a bit with a chopstick. Then cover with a little peat from the pot. 

Tip #5/ Mark north with an 'N' in Sharpie on your tray. Write down each row planting - Row 1 zinnias, Row 2 cucumbers, etc. All my row plantings are written in a dollar store composition book. When the tray is turned, you will always know which side is Row 1! And since the pages are bound together, all your information will be in one handy place.

Tip #6/ Keep the tray watered and covered. The top should look like this:

If there is no condensation on your lid, add more water or move to a warmer spot. Seeds need warmth and water to germinate and grow well. Or else they get moldy and die. Let's avoid that ;)

Tip#7/ As soon as seeds sprout and start leaning toward the sun, flip the tray 180 degrees daily. It helps the stems grow straight.

Tip #8/ When your larger seedlings are almost touching the top of the tray, move them to a taller plastic bin. If you don't, their stems will bend and most likely break. Broken stems will kill the plant at this stage!

I use a Sterilite bin with a lid. You can buy these anywhere. Though it's designed for hanging files, taller seedlings love it. 

Remember to keep your bin moist and place in a warm/ sunny spot. As soon as the seedlings have leaves, they need sunlight to photosynthesize. Think mini-greenhouse. 

My seedlings usually need at least four to six weeks in a bin or 'mini-greenhouse' environment to form strong starter plants. Open the lid each morning and night for a couple of hours to let fresh air in...

Tip #9/ Label your plants. Once the seedlings are in a larger bin, you need to know which is which. Sometimes I can figure it out the by the leaf's shape, but it's better to label unless you are really experienced. Popsicle sticks make inexpensive dividers + labels.

Any tips to share? I'd love to hear them and what you are planting.

Stay tuned for my list of crops and herbs to be planted this season. Hopefully, there will be no more ice storms...

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