Growing from seedbignet
Growing from seed is both a rewarding and inexpensive alternative to buying potted nursery plants. If you’re antsy to begin your spring gardening, you can grow your own starts up to two months before it’s time to plant!
There are two ways to start your garden from seed: Direct sowing into the soil outside or sprouting and maturing your seeds indoors. To decide whether to sow outside or start seeds inside, consider frost dates, temperature, time of year, and how much time and attention you can reasonably give your starts. Starting seeds indoors requires more supplies than direct sow, but transplanting seedlings that were started indoors can be more reliable. However, some plants are better adapted to direct sow and might not do as well with transplanting. Do your research on what your favorite varieties prefer before choosing a seed starting method.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Choose a container. Ask your local nursery if they have free planting trays or small pots or use a clean egg carton or specialized seed starting tray.
Select a spot with ample light. Seedlings need a lot of light to grow, and it might be difficult to find enough natural light in your home. Consider using artificial lights (grow lights) to ensure plenty of light for your starts.
Sow the seeds and keep them moist. We suggest using a sterile seed-starting medium or regular potting soil, which you can find at your local nursery or garden supply store. To keep the soil moist, cover the tray with cling wrap or a clear plastic bag, and make sure to water frequently. Avoid overwatering– the soil should be moist, not wet!
Once the starts have grown to a couple of inches tall, you can pot up (replant the starts in a larger pot) to allow for more space for root growth. You can use standard bagged potting soil and 3- to 4-inch pots for this.
Finally, prepare them for the outdoors by gradually hardening your starts. Begin hardening by moving the plants to a sheltered space outside for gradually increasing lengths of time. This is best done over a period of 1-2 weeks to prepare the plants for harsher outdoor conditions, increasing their likelihood of survival once planted outside.
Timing is very important for your plant’s survival: Make sure to plant your starts after the last threat of frost. All in all, this process takes six to eight weeks, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time.
Direct Sow Outside
Direct sow is arguably the simplest way to grow from seed. The trickiest part: Choosing the right time to sow. This timing is based on the last frost date in your area. A general rule of thumb is to sow seeds eight to ten weeks before the last frost. For example: Here in Ferndale, our last frost is typically around April 6th. Eight weeks before April 6th is February 9th, so we might sow during early- to mid-February. Make sure to consult the seed packet for specific sowing instructions: Some seeds require less time to germinate, while others take longer to sprout.
Before you sow your seeds, it is important to prep the area that you will use. Enrich the soil with some of your favorite amendments, such as compost, worm castings, or a bagged topsoil. Remove any weeds that are visible and consider laying a layer of Landscape Fabric to ensure that any remaining weeds die off.
Once you sow your seeds, water to keep the soil moist, avoiding overwatering or making the soil soggy.
Periodically thin your seedlings to ensure that your plants have the maximum chance of survival. When your seedlings have matured, add a mulch, such as our Veggie Booster Mulch, to give your plants a boost.
Whether you’re sprouting from seed indoors, direct sowing, or starting with potted nursery plants, your garden should reflect your personal lifestyle, budget, and goals. For many, starting from seed is a great way to save money, ensure that your plants come from high-quality seeds, and engage with your plants from the start! Leave us a comment to let us know how this worked for you.