Seed starting techniques and supplies

Growing plants from seedlings to maturity in your garden is very satisfying but when you grow them from seed, it’s the ultimate satisfaction. 

When you purchase seedlings, you’re very limited to the varieties that the garden center has stocked.  With seed, you can peruse through a catalog or online for varieties that you won’t find at a garden center.  It’s fun to experiment over the years and find that “special tomato” or unusual flower that no one else has.

Here’s the big bonus of raising plants from seed, it costs much, much less!  In fact, you can afford to try different “exotic” varieties and if they don’t work out, you haven’t lost that much.

The other bonus is, you can make it a project that the entire family can enjoy!

Seed starting is very easy but there are some very important points.  First, make sure you get good seed from a good source.  Sometimes you see bulk seed at garden centers but I usually shy away from them because you’re not really sure what you may get.  Also, in the past, I’ve purchased really cheap seed ($ .19 a pack) only to find it had a very low germination percentage.  If you stay with well known seed suppliers like Gurney’s, Burpee, etc., you’ll be fine.

When starting your seed, you need a very good potting soil.  I use Miracle Grow but any good seed starting soil will work well.  I use peat pots or cow pots rather than starting them in plastic cups or trays because, when it comes time to plant, you just drop the pot and all in the ground.

Simply fill up the pots and water the potting soil.  I use a pencil to make a hole to the depth specified for what you’re starting and then just pinch the hole closed.  I put my pots in a tray with a clear plastic lid which provides good humidity and will heat the pots during the day when the sun is shining through the window.  If you don’t have a good, sunny place to put your trays, you can purchase starting shelves with grow lights.  They work very well especially if you’re starting a lot of plants.

When the proper planting time comes, set your plants out in a calm area for a couple days to harden them for a few hours  a day.  When you plant them, do it in the afternoon after the soil has warmed. 

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