Hi everyone! My name is Jillian and I LOVE to garden. I may not be an expert, but I love to experiment in my own backyard, and I’ve come across a lot of cool tips and tricks to my garden (and yours) thrive and grow. Today, we are going to talk about the best methods I’ve found to go about seeding!
- Get to Know Your Seeds
The goal with seed starting is to have your seedlings ready to go outside when the weather is favorable. Start by looking at the seed packet, which should tell you when to start seeds inside. Each seed pack has a specific season and region it is best planted in. Make sure to take the directions to heart or else your seeds may not bloom at all!
- Choose the Right Container
You can start seeds in almost any type of container, as long as it's at least 2-3" deep and has some drainage holes. If you are the DIY type, you might want to grow seedlings in yogurt cups, milk cartons or paper cups. I prefer the convenience of trays that are made especially for seed starting. It's easy to fill the trays, the watering system ensures consistent moisture and I can move them easily.
- Choose the Right Soil
Choose potting soil that's made for growing seedlings. If you have the budget for it, start with a fresh, sterile soil mix. I recommend fresh bought soil because it will ensure healthy, disease-free seedlings. If you are trying to save a couple bucks, go ahead and use the soil you have in your own backyard, but be warned! Soil from your own yard can carry volunteer seeds too small for you to spot. We don’t want your little seedlings competing with foreign plants.
Before filling your containers, use a bucket or tub to moisten the planting mix. The goal is to get it moist but not soaking wet. Remember that most mixes contain few nutrients, so you'll need to feed the seedlings with liquid fertilizer a few weeks after they germinate.
- Begin Planting
Check the seed packet to see how deep you should plant your seeds. Some of the small ones can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. It's helpful to make a couple divots with your fingers in each pot to accommodate the seeds. After you've dropped a seed in each divot, you can go back and cover the seeds.
Moisten the newly planted seeds with a mister or a small watering can. Cover the pots with plastic wrap or a plastic dome that fits over the seed-starting tray. This helps keep the seeds moist before they germinate. When you see the first signs of green, remove the cover.
- Faithful Maintenance
As the seedlings grow, use a mister or a small watering can to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings. It’s a good idea to set up a fan to ensure good air movement and prevent disease. Remember to feed the seedlings regularly with liquid fertilizer, mixed at the rate recommended on the package.
- Let There Be Light!
Seedlings need a lot of light. If you're growing in a window, choose a south-facing exposure. If seedlings don't get enough light, they will be leggy and weak. If you're growing under lights, adjust them so they're just a few inches above the tops of the seedlings. Make sure your seedlings are only exposed to light for 15 a day. Like people, they need the night time to recover from a long day of growing.
- Hardening Off
When your seeds are ready to move outside, its temping to bring them out and plant them directly. Whatever you do, don’t do it! Your seedlings have been in a stable indoor environment for weeks, so they need a gradual transition to move outside. The process is called hardening off.
About a week before you plan to set the seedlings into the garden, place them in a protected spot outdoors for a few hours, bringing them in at night. Over the course of a week, expose them to more and more sunshine and wind. Once you have finished your week, you can plant them in their intended area.
The seeding process may not be for everyone, as it takes a lot of intentionality and equipment. But for many, it can be a wonderful and therapeutic process to bring your seeds into little sprouts. If you are new to this, all I can say is to trust the process and to not worry about the success of your seeds. So long as you follow the directions, your little babies will be able to thrive and grow with the best support system it could possibly have: YOU!