The days are getting longer, the new year has arrived, and this mild winter has us thinking spring. It’s finally time to plan for seed starting and plan the edible garden!
Starting Seeds for Garden Transplants
Seeds come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, just like the plants they produce. Of course some seeds (like sunflowers) are delicious all on their own, others… not so much (sorry, watermelon).
Starting your own seeds for garden transplants is an intriguing and satisfying process, but it does take a little time and a little know how.
- Seed starting kit, or
- Peat pots
- Seed starting mix
- Plastic wrap or dome
- Lights – Full spectrum (grow) lights do offer plants more of what they need, a basic shop light will do the trick if you’re on a budget.
What to do:
Dampen seed starting mix in pot, or water peat pellets (if using a starting kit), plant 2-3 seeds per pot/cell according to the directions, cover with a dome or plastic wrap and keep in a warm area. Once seeds have sprouted, remove the dome and turn on the lights. Keep the light just a couple inches above the seedlings and raise up as the seedlings grow. Thin to one plant per pot/cell once first true leaf forms.
Not all seeds should be started at the same time, and some should be sown directly into the garden (carrots get pretty crooked if transplanted).
Don’t be afraid to start super-hot peppers in February, or even in January for a jump on growth. If starting this early, it’s necessary to have grow lights. The sun just isn’t powerful enough just yet to give the plants all that they need. This jump start is important, as the super-hot peppers won’t be starting to ripen until September or October.
Tomatoes, most peppers, and eggplants should be started about 8-12 weeks before last frost and planted in the garden around June 1st. These will need to be re-potted 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 (acclimate them to the outdoors), begin to bring them outside when the temperature is 50 degrees during the day, but 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.