If it’s February, then it means I want to start thinking about my garden. Actually, I could already be planting some things if I used a hoop house and was a little more exhuberant about being outside in the cold and rain. *blush*
Anyway, I’ve heard from a number of you that you are ready for the new season to start, too, and since March is just around the corner (and the return of the Tuesday Garden Party on March 6!) I’m thinkin’ about seeds…are you?
I’ve written quite a bit about seed-starting in the past, so I thought I’d bring them together here for you, plus add a couple of things I’ve found to be helpful.
1. Not sold on starting your plants from seeds? I’ve listed my top four reasons it’s a good idea to start your vegetables from seed. Or at least some of them. I don’t pressure myself to start every last thing from seed – especially when I want only one plant (like tomatillos). But I like having my broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower ready to go out when I’m ready to plant- not just when the stores start carrying them. And you can grow some exotic flowers from seed that you won’t find in the nurseries.
2. Wondering where to buy seeds? If you have a reputable store that sells good quality seeds, you can buy there, but I like to buy from catalogs – and I especially like looking at the catalogs. You get TONS of information about different varieties, growing conditions, and harvesting tips. I shared my favorite catalogs and vegetable varieties they carry last year, and I will be ordering from them again within the next week, I’m sure.
3. If you’re sold on growing some of your plants indoors and you’ve got some seeds, here are the simple steps I take to start seeds indoors – using only basic (i.e., not expensive) equipment. I’ve pictured each step to take any mystery out of it, as well as the equipment you need to have. I use a shop light to grow my plants, as I don’t have any big windows. I find using a light source produces stockier plants as well, but a window does work, too.
4. Worried about follow-up care? I have three posts showing you how to treat your baby seedlings at every stage:
- Caring for the seedlings after one week
- Caring for the seedlings after six weeks - including “hardening them off” to prepare them for outdoor life.
- Planting the seedlings in the garden- complete with lots of pictures of how I prepare my beds and plant the different types of vegetables with information on spacing and covering if needed.
5. Need another reason to start your plants from seed? It makes having a fall vegetable garden easy: you have the varieties and number of plants you want- all ready when you need to plant!
6. If you’ve started seeds in the past (or just thought you would and never actually planted them- not that I’ve ever done that…uhem) and now have old seed you’re wondering about, the Oregon State University extension site has some good information on how to test seed for germination:
- Place 10 seeds an even distance apart on a damp paper towel. Roll up the towel and place in a plastic bag.
- Leave the damp, rolled towel in a warm spot in the kitchen for two to five days. The location’s lighting doesn’t matter.
- After the two-to-five days, check the paper towel to see which seeds have germinated.
7. Finally, here are some other tips for starting plants from seed:
- 10 seed-starting tips from Fine Gardening
- Seed-starting How-To from Organic Gardening
- Starting plants from seeds by the University of Minnesota Extension
And remember you can download my FREE Organic Gardening Checklist (pdf) to help you know when to plant things for each month of the year!