Seeds are a miracle in nature. Each small seed must store enough energy to survive and develop a root system that can absorb nutrition and water. It also contains the basis for a stem covered with leaves, flowers, fruits, and vegetables just like its parent plant. In just a few short months, the tiny seed will provide an abundance of food or flowers for the gardener to enjoy.
Get your seeds together
The quality of the seed you purchase is very important. Seeds have limits too. While some will still be viable for years, others will only germinate if planted within the first year. There are even some plants that produce seeds that will need to be planted within a couple weeks to ensure germination.
Of course, there are always budget concerns, and if you have seeds left from last year, you may want to use that seed if possible. To assure that you will have good germination from leftover seeds, there is an easy test. Wet a paper towel, damp not dripping. Place a few seeds on the paper towel and cover with another damp paper towel. Place in a sealed plastic bag with just a little air in the bag, and check for germination at the appropriate time. The seed packet usually tells you how long it takes to germinate. If they all germinate, you can use this seed without worry. If only one or two germinate, discard the old seed and buy new seeds.
Once you have purchased your flower and vegetable seeds, read the back of the packet. There is a lot of important information located on the back. Our non-GMO seeds have all the information you need to grow the best flowers and vegetables possible. Some of the information includes how deep to plant your seeds, how much space they need, how long the seed needs to germinate, and how long until you will have flowers or vegetables. This is information you will need to learn how to start seeds indoors successfully. Now you’re ready to get started!
Set up your garden nursery
There is a certain amount of equipment you will need to start seeds indoors. The easiest way is to purchase a seed starting kit. These kits include everything you will need and can be reused for many years to come. If you have decided to just use the containers from last year, they must be washed in soapy water. Plus, a rinse in a bleach-water solution is a good idea to kill any unwanted organisms. With the kit, you will use a preformed plant medium. In your own containers, you will need to use a soilless mix or soil specifically for starting seed. Remember if you are growing organically and have purchased organic vegetable seeds, check that your seed starting medium is also organic.
- Light. You will need light once your seeds have germinated. This can be achieved with a southern exposure window, but a surer way is to provide an artificial light system. Seedlings thrive with 14 hours of light per day. This isn’t always possible on a windowsill. The result of too little light can be spindly, weak plants. Artificial light can be a fluorescent shop light, or you can build onto your seed starting kit with grow lights.
- Heat. Another add-on to consider is heat. Most seeds germinate best at temperatures of 68 degrees or warmer. If your seeds will be started in a warm room, that may be enough to keep the soil warm. However, if your planting area is in a cool room or basement, heat might be necessary to get the seeds to germinate. There are heating pads available that are made for this purpose. They come waterproof and can be placed under your tray of seedlings.
- Water. Your seeds and seedlings need water. The best way to water is from the bottom. There is a fungal disease called “damping off” that affects seedlings. The fungus will form on the wet soil surface and attack the young plant at that point. Your beautiful seedling will look totally healthy and then drop over at ground level. To prevent this from happening, allow the surface of the soil to dry before watering and try bottom watering. Place your planted containers in a waterproof tray and pour the water into the tray rather than directly on the seedlings.
- Air. Keep your seedlings healthy by spacing them correctly to allow good air circulation. Many gardeners include a small fan on their equipment list. Set up the fan to run when the lights are on. The air movement can help prevent damping off and also help the plants become stronger by simulating the wind they will encounter once moved outdoors.
Starting seedlings is fun, and it allows you to choose from so many varieties of flower seeds and vegetable seeds. It is a learning process, and each year you will get better at it. If you are unsure, start with some easy-to-grow plants like cucumbers, broccoli, zinnias, and marigolds.