How our garden grows
This week we’re going to talk about getting our little seeds started…
We bought a seed starter tray that comes with a humidity dome and drain tray PLUS a heat pad on Amazon for a super good price! Hydrofarm CK64050 Germination Station with heat pad
We used Jiffy Organic Seed Starting Mix to fill our trays… it’s better if you moisten the mix and then fill the tray Using sterile seed starter mix helps prevent damping-off, this where a fungus from regular soil attacks the little sprouts and kills them.
After you fill the tray with the mix, poke a hole in the center of each cup, plant 2-3 seeds of the same variety in each hole, and cover over with soil. For tags we use old vinyl 1 inch blinds, cut in half, and then into 2-3 inch sections. Write on them with a permanent marker. Make sure to plant enough of each variety to account for failures. It’s also nice to have a few extras to give away rather than not have enough to fill your garden, if some of them fail to thrive.
In order to grow the seeds need about 18 hours of light… this can be done by using a lamp timer. Lots of light is really good but they need a resting period for the photosynthesis to work properly. We made this little DIY light stand to hold the lights. We hung the lights by chains, so we can adjust them to stay 1 inch above the seedlings as they grow! We made it out of 1 inch PVC pipe and a folding table. The PVC pipe is not glued together so we can take it apart for easy storage when not in use!
The daylight 5000Kelvin lamp works the best to get the seeds started… Grow Lights, strangely, are not the best for starting new seeds. The seed starting heat mats raise the temperature of the soil 15 degrees which helps the seeds to germinate faster particularly with peppers, tomatillos, and some of the more hard to start seeds. It’s also a good idea to start vegetables that grow at a similar rate in the same tray. Also put melons, squash, cucumbers in Styrofoam cups because they grow so much faster and they have a larger volume of roots.
All of our tips help grow little seedlings but seeds can be started in Styrofoam cups and regular day light in a window sill with plain dirt BUT using our tips really does increases the odds of success.
Another important thing is during the first week after planting, keep the humidity dome (clear plastic lid) over the trays to make sure they don’t dry out. Mist with a spray bottle twice a day. Once all the seedlings have come up and are getting to the point where it will touch the dome, remove the dome.
In order to grow strong plants it’s best to “pet” them before watering… I KNOW that sounds hokey BUT, if you bend them back and forth a couple of times by running your hand across them 2-3 times, they will be nice, strong little plants!! By doing this you are flexing the stems to keep them short and strong rather than long and skinny… your simulating wind!!
It’s also important to know which types of seeds are best to start in doors and which seeds do best planted in the ground. Some vegetables do not transfer well.
~Tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, tomatillos, onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (cole crops) like to be started indoors.
~Cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins can be started in doors if your very careful with them.
~Beans, lettuce, peas, potatoes, corn, carrots, radishes, beets, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas CAN NOT be started in doors as they do not transplant well.
It’s a good idea to research and find out what varieties will work for your region. We live a zone 7 and there are only a few varieties of watermelon that will mature before it frosts again in the fall. The larger watermelons from the south will never ripen where we live… for an example
Start the seedlings about 6-8 weeks before the last frost… in our area that is around Mothers’ Day! Then they’ll be ready to plant
* I linked this post up to The Shabby Creek Cottage Linky party!!