Starting from Seed

Seeds are like babies.  In the beginning, they require a bit of attention—especially during the first few weeks.  Seedlings need to be kept consistently moist or they won’t sprout. Plant them in fine, loose soil that holds its moisture well.  (Adding peat moss will help it hold water.)  You might want to buy sterilized (disease-free) potting mix, because young seedlings are easy targets for disease.  And you don’t want anything to harm these babies!

How deep should you plant them?  Check your label, but tiny seeds (like carrots) must be planted shallow, about 1/4” deep.  Larger ones (like beans) should be planted about 1” deep. 

Seeds also need to be kept warm.  Most labels will warn you to wait until after threat of frost—and they mean it.  To start your seeds indoors, place them by a sunny window, even on top of your refrigerator!  Fluorescent light bulbs work wonders, too.  Put the light within 3-6 inches of your plant and they’ll think it’s the sun!  If not kept warm, they might take too long to germinate (sprout), and that’s not good.  The stronger start, the better the living.

If starting your seed in the garden, form a well around them.  It will help collect water and keep them moist and protected.  Feed them a light fertilizer.  If you use dirt from around your home (instead of pre-fertilized potting mix), use fish emulsion at half-strength, once a week.  Seeds love it!  It stinks, but they love it.  Once they sprout, keep a steady eye on them.  Don’t let them dry out.  Don’t let them get too hot, or too cold.  A little fussy, I know, but if you do, they’ll stress out.  At this stage, they kinda remind me of Goldilocks.

If you started your seeds indoors, you’ll want to transplant your sprouts to the garden when conditions allow.  In my case, this means when they’re big enough to withstand my memory lapse on the water schedule. J

As your sprouts grow, do try to remember the water.  Like humans, they’re made up mostly of water, so watch your soil.  If you stick your finger in the ground, say about 1-2 inches and you find that it’s dry—then water.  If you take a handful of dirt from around your plants and it runs through your fingers like sand—then water.  But if it’s wet, wet, wet

Hold off.  The plants need time to soak it all in.  Oh, and if your plant’s leaves are wilting, they’re already stressed so let’s not let it get that far, shall we?  Soaker hoses work well as do sprinklers in the a.m. and p.m.  And don’t forget the mulch!  Mulching around their base will help conserve moisture.

Happy gardening!

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