Starting your Own Seeds

It is amazing how many people there are out there that think starting your own seeds at home is hard or takes a lot of time.  It does require a small time commitment every day as well as the time to fill seed starting trays with growing medium, but it frees you from so many concerns!  (And don't forget about all of the money you will save!)

What are the benefits?  You pick the kind of seeds you grow so you won't have to worry about the nursery running out of the ones you want,  since you choose your own soil, fertilizer, and water source you don't need to worry about what has been added to your plants (especially if you'll be eating them), you will know when they were planted (IF you remembered to keep track...), you will know what was planted since you picked your own seeds,  not to mention the cost and...  I could go on and on of course, but that was not the intent of this post.


Let's get started!  You will need some basic equipment to start out with.  Containers, soil, seeds, water, a source of light, and heat are all that you will need for a successful operation.

Seed tray prior to sprouting
Any clean container will do.  I used the trays you can buy at the store for maximum usage of my little table top green house.  I have seen others use egg cartons, old cool whip containers, etc as well.  The containers need drainage though, if they get waterlogged you will get mold growth as well as other problems.  It is also a good idea to have your container in something else to catch the water that drains out of your container if you over-water to cut down on the mess creation factor.  To reduce the risk of fungi and bacteria being present on your containers and in your soil you may wish to sanitize them.  Soil can be sanitized by baking it in the oven.

Spouted cucumber seeds
Once you have your container ready, it is time to put some growing medium into it.  I have heard of people using plain sand, perilite, sphagnum peat moss, regular soil, or any combination of these things.  The important thing to remember is that it should be able to retain moisture.  If a seed isn't kept moist, it's not going to sprout!  Pack the soil into the container thoroughly, if you don't the soil will settle and there won't be enough room for the roots to grow.

Next, plant the seeds.  Read the directions on your seed packet to know when to plant your seeds, how close to plant them together, etc.  Some seeds need to be started indoors in order to give you the longest growing season possible while others can be planted outside prior to the last frost or after the last frost.   If you don't want to forget which seeds are planted where you may also want to consider marking them, especially if you aren't good at identifying young seedlings. Generally seeds are covered with about as much soil as they are big.  Covering them with the recommended amount of soil can mean a difference between a successful sprout or a failure.  Too little soil will allow the seedling to dry out and it will also be visible to seed eating birds if you are outside, too much soil may cause your seedling to run out of stored energy before it hits the daylight.  Once you get the hang of growing your own seedlings you can also collect and store your own seeds for an even bigger cost savings, but that's a post for another time.  You don't need to plant every seed in the packet either, save some for next year or the year after that....  The date on the package indicates when the best germination period will be for them, they don't automatically go sterile after that date.
Reaching for daylight

Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but if there is standing water in the water catching tray, dump it out. Standing water invites mold.  I should know, I had some starting to grow.  In the past, that has killed my seedlings so I stood watch.  If you do get mold it can be defeated if you catch it early enough.  I simply mixed a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide into my spray bottle that I mist the soil with.  It kills the mold, but won't harm the plant.  I also dried out the seedlings with some air circulation from a fan, either of those on it's own *should* work by itself, but I wasn't taking any chances.

I had to put my containers into a protective greenhouse to keep the cats away from the tender sprouts, but you can keep them in any sunny location to give them the light they need.  If you don't have a sunny location many people also use grow lights with the full UV spectrum in them.  Technically they don't need light until you see the green leaves though.  See how the seedlings grow toward the light?  You may want to rotate your trays if you're using the sun for your light source.

Provide some heat.  Seedlings need different amounts of heat for different types for optimal growth but not providing optimal temps will just slow down the germination and growth of the plant, it won't stop it.  There are optional heating mats that people have used to warm their soil faster, but they aren't necessary.

Now, we wait for the seedlings to grow their true leaves and grow bigger and stronger.  At this point if your seedlings are growing outside you need to beware of cut worms that will cut the seedlings off at soil level.  Cut up pieces of toilet paper holders have worked for me in the past.

Keep watering and watch them grow!

Thank you for stopping by to chat with me. Please leave me a message, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Cindy




No comments: