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Starting Garden Plants from Seed

Updated on April 15, 2012
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I love starting my garden plants from seed.

It is easy to do. And it's fun to plant a little seed and care for it through its life.

It is cheaper than buying plants from the garden store. And there are many more varieties to choose from. The garden centre may have four or five different types of tomato plants, while a seed catalogue may have 30 or more varieties. You can experiment with different types and find exactly what you are looking for.

Plants that have a long growing season, such as tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and brussel sprouts are best to start indoors.

You can also start melons, cucumbers and squash, but be extra careful when transplanting as they are more sensitive plants.

Here are some supplies you will need before you begin.

You will need pots. You can buy plastic re-useable pots.

You can use peat pots that you can plant right in the ground.

You can recycle any waterproof container as long as you pop a few holes in the bottom. Just be sure to clean the pots you are reusing to kill any germs that may hurt your baby plants. Disinfect with a bleach and water solution, nine parts of water to one part bleach.

You can even make your own pots out of newspaper.

This little greenhouse is the perfect thing to put your tender seedlings in. It will keep them warm and safe from cats.

You will need dirt. Seeds sprout best in a growing medium that is lightweight, moisture-retaining and well-drained. New roots need to be able to stretch and grow. Do not use garden soil. It is too heavy and may contain disease pathogens.

Soil-less mixtures are best. They provide bulk, improve aeration and absorb water. Soil-less mixtures are made with milled sphagnum, peat moss, perlite or vermiculite.

Sow seeds 6-12 weeks before your planting date.

The first thing you need to do is to prewet your planting mix. Put it in a bucket and add a little water and stir. Keep adding water gradually until your dirt is evenly moist.

Put two or three seeds in each little pot because some seeds may not germinate. Later you can thin to your strongest plant. Make sure to cut the smaller plant. Don't tug it out or you will disturb the roots on the plant you want to keep.

Place your pots in a warm spot. Most seeds will sprout faster in dirt that is between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat mats can help with this.

If you don't have a heating mat, you can place your pots on top of the fridge. I sprouted some stubborn pumpkin seeds that way last year.

Once they sprout. they will need light. Move your plants to a sunny window.

Water your little seedling several times a week. Keep the soil moist.

Once their true (second set) of leaves develop, you can thin your plants to one plant per pot. You can also transplant them carefully into soil. Let soil dry out between waterings.

Now you just tend to your seedlings until it is time to plant them outside.

Plants need to be hardened off before they are planted outside, or they will be shocked by the wind, cooler air and brighter outside light. Start off by putting your plants outside, for half an hour the first day. Gradually leave them out a little longer each day, until they are spending the entire day outside.

Planting Day

So you are sure the threat of frost is over. Your seedlings are about to bust out of their pots, they are so eager to stretch their little roots in that deep, rich soil of yours. It's transplanting time! Try to plant on a cloudy, cool afternoon. Give them a little food and water well to avoid transplant shock.

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