Giving Seeds a Great Start

by | Apr 1, 2020 | Seed Starting, Spring | 0 comments

Thinking about growing some seeds this spring? Good for you. Seeds are a cheap and easy way to grow edibles such as basil, tomatoes, chives, green beans and much more. Here are four tips to help you succeed – even if you’ve never touched a seed before.

Start With Good Seeds

The seeds you sow must be able to come to life (a.k.a. germination). Use seeds packed for 2020. Most seed packets have their packing date printed on the back of the packet near the bottom. You can use seeds from a previous year but just know they are older and might not germinate as well.

Every Seed Needs a Container

Begin your seed starting with clean pots or seedling trays. There are several types of seed starting systems on the market. The best ones are seed starting trays with a water reservoir and capillary mats underneath that draw water into the soil to keep it moist. But these special setups are not the only way to start seeds. You can just as easily use a pot – any pot – with a good soil medium to start seeds.

Check the pots you have left over from previous years. They can easily be recycled by sowing seeds in them. Just make sure they have a drainage hole. and are at least 6 inches deep (for root growth).

Plant in Good Soil

Speaking of soil medium, I recommend using potting soil. Nearly any of the soil mixes sold by garden supply companies (Gardener’s Supply, Scott’s, Burpee, etc.) will work just fine. Cheap soil medium you might find in dollar stores will not work as well because they are not mixed with elements that prevent the soil from becoming dense and soggy.

Always make sure your potting soil is moist but NOT soggy. Soggy soil is likely to damage and destroy young roots emerging from the seeds.

Whatever you use, check that your soil medium is completely wetted before you begin sowing. If you’re using soil is left over from last year it may have dried out completely. Be sure to water, mix, and then water again to make sure it is wet all the way through.

Open the Seed Packet and Sow

Read the seed package directions before sowing. They will tell you how far apart to sow them (if you’re sowing in the ground), whether they need to be sown deep or just on the surface, and how many days until you should see green buds emerging from the soil. Some packets will also tell you that their seeds need extra care such as pre-soaking in water before sowing. Don’t be impatient and skip these steps. If you do, your seeds might not come up.

When sowing in a seed tray, drop no more than one or two seeds in each square. Sowing too many seeds is a waste of resources. Seeds sown too close together will crowd each other out, making the mature plant stunted.

After the seeds are sown, put a label in or on the pot to help you remember what you sowed. Some seedlings (cilantro and parsley, for example) look very much alike when they are young. A label will help you remember what you sowed so you can eventually put the right herb or veggie in the right place.

Now Comes the Miracle

Now that the seeds are in the soil, check your trays daily to ensure they remain moist.  Once they are triggered into growth, seeds need regular moisture to get through the first few weeks. First to appear above the soil will be a pair of pseudo-leaves closely followed by the first true leaves. Once that happens, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re on your way to a healthy, bountiful garden.

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