Baby lettuce growing around decorative rocks

Edibles Part 1: Seed Starting

In Blog, Edibles, Feature, Spring by Megan Nichols

Here we go! It’s time to think spring, start seeds, and plan the edible garden. If you joined us last Saturday for Minnetonka Community Day, you had a chance to learn all about seed starting and enjoy the summer-like feel in the greenhouse. If you missed it, well we missed you, too! Here’s the rundown on the edible info you need to know heading into spring.

Sprouts

By far the easiest and quickest type of seed starting. It depends on the variety of seed, but the basics are this simple. Grab a mason or other type of canning jar and grab a sprout lid here at Tonkadale (or make one by poking holes in a canning lid). Or, if you’d like to make 4 different kinds of sprouts in one container but keep them separated, check out the Botanical Interest Sprouter Box – it’s amazing! Be sure to sterilize everything before you begin. Soak the sprout seeds, drain, and continue to rinse and drain every 8-12 hours for 3-6 days, place in sun to green up, refrigerate and enjoy. Eat sprouts on salads, sandwiches, soups, or all their own.

Microgreens

Also super simple and super quick. Add a little soil (no more than one inch deep) to a shallow produce container with drainage holes. Water soil, sprinkle seeds evenly, cover with a very fine layer of soil, mist well and cover with the container’s lid or plastic wrap. Once seeds have sprouted remove the lid and continue to mist to keep soil moist. Harvest with sharp kitchen sheers in 10-14 days.

Not all types of edibles can be grown for microgreens, but there are many that can. Here are just a few to try:

Fast growing

  • Radish (spicy)
  • Mustard (spicy)
  • Tatsoi
  • Cress (spicy)
  • Kohlrabi

Slow growing

  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Chard (colorful)
  • Dill (citrusy)
  • Lemon balm

Other excellent options include peas, sunflowers (so tasty!), basil, chia, corn shoots, celery, and amaranth.

Starting Seeds for Garden Transplants

Starting your own seeds for garden transplants is fun and fairly easy, but it does take a little time.

Here is what you need:

  • Seed starting kit, or
    • Tray
    • Peat pots
    • Seed starting mix
    • Plastic wrap or dome
    • Lights

Wet seed starting mix in pot, or peat pellets (if using a starting kit), plant 2-3 seeds per pot/cell according to direction, cover and keep in a warm area. Once seeds have sprouted, remove the dome and turn on the lights. Grow lights are good but not necessary, a simple florescent shop light will do just fine. Keep the light just a couple inches above seedlings and raise up as the seedlings grow. Thin to one plant per pot/cell once first true leaf forms.

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants should be started now (the usual suggestion is about 8 weeks before last frost) and planted in the garden around June 1st. These will need to be repotted as they’ll grow too big between now and the time to plant them in the garden. Cucumbers, squash, melons, and beans can be started indoors but do not have to be. Carrots, corn, and peas do best when sown directly.

To harden off seedlings, begin to bring them outside when the temperatures are 50 degrees during the day, and bring them back in at night. Do this for a week, placing them in dappled light and in an area with little wind until they become stronger.

Try one or all three. Any way it’s done, it’s fun to watch seeds turn into little living plants.

Up next: Part II, Edible Gardening Basics