Seed Starting: The Journey from Seed to Seedling
Every spring, garden centers, plant nurseries and hardware stores are filled to the brim with an abundance of beautiful vegetable and flower transplants. While their convenience might be alluring, take a look at the price tag before heading to the checkout line. If you are planning to grow a large garden this year, you may want to think about starting your own seeds, which can be easy, cheap and fun. You will be able to watch the lifecycle of your plants from seed to delicious vegetable. With a few basic seed-starting products from Growers Supply, and a little bit of know-how, your summer garden can be filled with great homegrown produce or stunning ornamental flowers.
WHAT SHOULD YOU GROW?
The most difficult part of the seed-starting process may be deciding what you want to grow. If you are looking to choose from a large selection, seed catalogs and vendors offer hundreds of thousands of varieties. We have a guide for selecting your perfect seeds if you are looking for a little help getting started. If too many options make choosing seeds a daunting task, try your local garden shop which may have just a few racks. The best part of picking your own seeds is that you can customize your garden to suit your taste and needs. For example, if you are a city dweller looking from some homegrown food, try growing dwarf tomatoes and herbs in containers on your balcony. Once you choose your seeds, let the growing begin!
WHAT DO SEEDS NEED?
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to start a seed. There are a few basics to get you going: clean containers, a growing medium, water and warmth. We recommend using standard 1020 flats filled with a growing medium for planting your seeds. They are very common and will fit into other containers such as our Heated Germination Station.
For heat, Growers Supply has got your seeds covered. We sell a variety of seedling and propagation mats to keep your seeds warm underneath your standard 1020 flats. Looking for more coverage? The Heated Germination Station we talked about above will keep the heat inside, making sure your seeds don’t lose it to the air around them.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A GROWING MEDIUM?
Seed-starting mixes, or soilless blends, are one of the best options to plant your seeds in because they are specially made to fit into containers or cell packs and include all the crucial nutrients seeds need. These affordable mixes can be found at your local plant or hardware store and come in easy-to-use packages.
At Growers Supply, we also offer a variety of growing media that make starting seeds a breeze. Wonder Soil is an eco-friendly, soilless potting medium that comes in a variety of forms to fit your gardening needs. Add water to Wonder Soil and watch it expand. Jiffy Products are also some of our favorites. From the Coir Pellets to Growblocks®, Jiffy products include a biodegradable container to serve as the “container and media in one.”
If you want to stick to the old-fashioned stuff, there is nothing wrong with picking up some potting soil at the garden center. That being said, we don’t recommend using soil from your garden or what you used the year before because it might contain insects or fungus that can damage or destroy your seeds. Once you have decided on your growing medium, go ahead and plant your seeds.
HOW DO YOU SOW THE SEEDS?
Getting your seeds planted is actually very easy. First, pour your medium into a bucket and moisten it with water. Mix it all together with your hands and then start filling the seed flats evenly and press seeds about 1/8” into each cell. If you are planting little seeds, like tomatoes or basil, put a few seeds in each. Larger seeds like zucchini and beans only need one seed per cell. Don’t forget to label each cell with what’s inside and then lightly mist your whole flat to dampen the seeds. It is a good idea to cover your seed flat at this stage to hold in the moisture and heat needed for germination. After that, stand back and watch seeds turn to seedlings.
HOW DO YOU CARE FOR YOUR SEEDLINGS?
You aren’t finished when the seeds are planted. Seeds have to germinate in order to become seedlings and need good amounts of light, circulation and sufficient water to get there. Be sure to keep some artificial lighting going so the seeds get the light they need and place your flats on a seedling heat mat to keep them nice and warm. Last, but most importantly– water your plants but don’t drown them! In a few weeks, with proper care, you will have strong little seedlings ready to move outdoors.
HOW DO YOU TRANSITION THE SEEDLINGS TO THE OUTDOORS?
When your seeds are ready to make the move, it’s important to do it gradually to avoid transplant shock. Let the seedlings spend time outside for a few hours a day in the shade, then bring them back inside in the evening. After a few days, gradually increase their time in direct sunlight. A week or so later the seedlings should be ready to head outside for good. Your job is done, at least for now. Your seeds are now seedlings and ready to grow into beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables!
If you haven’t started your own seeds before, what has stopped you from doing it in the past?