Starting plants from seed gives the gardener control over growing conditions such as soil mix, fertilizing, growing conditions, and watering, as well as when one can plant and what they can grow. There is a broader selection of varieties to choose from when starting from seed, allowing the gardener to be less dependent on what is only grown for transplants. And who can deny the savings from buying a packet of seeds versus buying transplants? If you want to grow a lot of plants, it’s cheaper to buy seeds than starts.
Now is a great time to buy seed. An important first step is to plan your garden and take into consideration plant size and days to harvest, then find your seed! Seed racks can feel like libraries, there’s so many to choose from where does one even begin? Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are happy to help with your seed starting questions so we can assist in guiding you to varieties that will fit your plan.
Once you’ve chosen your seed, make sure you’re prepared with the supplies you need to be successful. It is important to start seeds in a sterile seedling mix because the delicate roots of a seedling are not yet equipped to take on the fungi conditions of potting soil. Jiffy pellets are easy to use and great for large seeding projects. Use of peat pots, coir pots, tray packs, and plugs, or plastic pots are all good options for starting seed, it may just depend on your personal preference or the amount of seed you’re starting.
If you don’t have adequate lighting, then the use of LED lights would be beneficial as most vegetable and herb seeds need 6 to 8 hours of direct light to grow. Use blue, daylight spectrum lightbulbs for seeding and orient the light bulb to be at least 6″ above the pots when starting and adjust the height as needed to prevent burning of the new leaves, as well as to prevent growth from getting leggy where they look like they are having to reach and stretch for the light.
Other beneficial supplies to have are a heating mat, seed starting tray, labeling tags, and a good watering can with a narrow spout for easy and efficient watering. Depending on your seed starting setup, all or some of these items could make all the difference to your success and our helpful staff is here to guide you to what will work best for you.
Don’t forget to fertilize! When seedlings develop their 2 true leaves, feeding with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer will give them a boost to get to their next stage of growth that will start generating energy through photosynthesis to help feed the plant.
Plants to Start from Seed Now
Though it may be a bit cold to get out and plant, now is the ideal time to start your own transplants inside, from seed. It is important to consider when you are actually ready – and able – to put them in the garden. Some, such as tomatoes and peppers, can easily be potted up a size or two before transplanting. Others, such as the cole crops, resent handling almost as much as they do being left in the tray too long.
Here are some seeding suggestions:
Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Kale: Ready to plant out in about 6 weeks. Rather cold hardy, sow seed in February to plant March- April. Plant very gently, before roots emerge through the bottom of the pots. Dis-likes being potted up.
Onions and Leeks: Ready to plant in 8 to 10 weeks. Cold hardy, sow seed in January or February for transplanting March-April. They plant much better if you don’t wait much past the ready date.
Lettuce: Ready in 4 to 5 weeks. Rather cold hardy, sow seed in February to plant in March. Better resistance to bolting if you don’t let them get root-bound.
Eggplant: Ready in 8 to 10 weeks. Sow in March to plant out late May at earliest – one of the most cold-sensitive. Can be potted up before planting.
Peppers: Ready to plant in 10 to 12 weeks, sow seed in January or February for planting late May. Can be or potted up.
Tomatoes: Ready to plant in 6 to 8 weeks, sow seed in February or March for planting late May. Can be held or potted up.
Melons, Squash, and Cucumbers: Ready to plant in 4 to 5 weeks, sow in April for planting late May. Handle very gently, dislikes transplanting. Consider direct sowing in May instead.
Corn: Ready to plant in 3 weeks, sow seed late April or early May for planting late May. Younger starts separate easier, don’t hold them too long.