Start Your Garden From Seed

Starting your vegetable garden from seed can be a challenge.  It’s easy to get the seeds to sprout but there are some gardening “rules” to follow for success, like planting times, water, soil, fertilizer.  The thrill of seeing your seeds sprout, grow, and produce is like no other!  You did it! It’s exciting!  Here are a few ideas to help with your success:

· A south-facing or sunny window
· A bag of potting mix that is fluffy and light, with a loose texture with a good blend of soil, vermiculite or perlite. Seeds don’t like a heavy soil
· Popsicle sticks or cute, stylish plant markers
· Waterproof pen or pencil
· Peat pots or peat trays
· A complete soluble quality fertilizer

Your seedlings will be indoors for about 6-8 weeks so plant accordingly with your growing calendar. (See growing calendar at the end of this article.)
Fill your peat pots with the potting mix, but make sure the soil mix is premoistened. To premoisten, simply put the soil mix in a separate, large container and wet it through. You don’t want it soggy, just moist.

* Peat pellets are an easy way to start seeds and they typically come with their own “greenhouse.”
* If you are using the peat pellets:
1. Put the pellets in the planting tray.
2. Soak the pellets with lukewarm water until they expand to full size, pour off any excess water.
3. Sow seeds (use 2 to 3 of the same kind if seeds per pellet) by pressing them gently down into the pellet soil. Rule of thumb is to plant seeds 4 times their diameter. Read the seed packet, it always gives a specific planting depth.
4. Position the tray in a bright place and place the cover on top.
5. When the seeds are sprouting, turn the cover slightly for air circulation.
6. When the seeds have sprouted, take the cover off.

Your seeds should be ready for your garden within a few weeks (see growing calendar). You can plant the entire peat pellet or pot into your garden soil.

Getting back to the peat pots (rather than pellets) – gently sow your seed into the mix. Sow only 3 or 4 plants per pot. This is so you won’t have to transplant them. If you sow too thickly you’ll either have to thin them out or eventually transplant them into their own containers.

Press seeds GENTLY to make sure they have good contact with soil, then sprinkle more soil on top, enough to cover the seeds. Rule of thumb is to plant seeds 4 times their diameter. Read the seed packet, it always gives a specific planting depth.

Always mark your seedling flats with your popsicle sticks and waterproof pen noting the variety of vegetable and date planted. Many seedlings look alike and it’s easy to forget which tray is which.

PLACE the cover over the seed tray or inside a large plastic bag. Close tightly. You won’t need to water it again until the seedlings sprout.Don’t put the flat in a cool, drafty area, or one that’s too warm, like on the window sill. A constant temperature is very important A good place is on top of your refrigerator, if you have room for it there. Away from sunlight is best. As soon as the seeds sprout and have broken through the soil surface, remove the plastic bags or cover. Seedlings usually appear within 10 days to 3 weeks. Once the seeds have sprouted, they will need full sun, in a sunny south-facing window.
Constant temperatures and even moisture is very important for seedlings. Move away from draft.

Now is the time to water. Place the tray cover under the tray to water from the bottom to keep from disturbing tender roots.Keep your seedlings indoors for 6-8 weeks or longer if possibility of chill.

PLANTING OUTDOORS• Prepare your garden during seed growing time for optimum success. A mixture of Happy Frog Planting Mix, Black Kow or mushroom compost, and the existing soil makes an excellent growing medium. Adding Bio-Tone Plus Starter Plant Food can take your harvest go from good to amazing!
• Try to transplant in the late afternoon when the sun is low.
• Plant in rows, hills, and spacing according to seed package.
• Make sure the soil you are planting seedlings into is moist.
• No need to take seedling out of peat pot when planting.
• Plant tomatoes DEEP into the soil. All others plant at root level.
• Water thoroughly, to make sure the soil has settled around the root ball.
• Keep moist and well watered for the first 4-5 days to make sure seedlings get established.
• Fertilize with quality vegetable fertilizer as directed.
*** Our specialists will be happy to help with more gardening tips!