Seed Starting Basics

Know the seed starting basics: starting your seed sprouting inside will go a long ways towards giving your garden an early start.


| December 2005/January 2006



Seed-starting-basics-2

You can start seeds successfully in both premade and homemade containers.


Walter Chandoha

After the warmth of holiday gatherings and festivities, planning for spring comforts us in the cold, short days of winter. Apart from the satisfying process of nurturing little green seedlings under your roof, practical reasons exist to start some of your seeds indoors. First, well-established young plants will produce earlier, thus giving you a longer picking season. In Northern states, such as Pennsylvania, where I live, we start heat-loving, long-season crops such as okra and eggplant indoors if we are to expect anything from them before Labor Day.

Second, many of us routinely start garden plants indoors — rather than buying seedlings from a nursery — to take advantage of special varieties available only from seed companies. Whatever your requirements — tomatoes for drying, storage or exceptional flavor; white eggplants; seedless watermelons; long-keeping cabbage; hot peppers; slow-bolting lettuces — these and many more vegetables with special qualities can be yours if you grow the plants from seed.

Unless you have a greenhouse or a large bank of fluorescent lights, you’ll want to be selective about the varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers you start at home. Pick ones that will benefit the most from an early start. Given space for only a few, I’d choose tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and cabbage; basil and parsley; and snapdragons and dahlias.

Several others, including beets, Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage, don’t necessarily need a head start indoors, but I have done so on occasion. Beets need to be thinned, and they are sensitive to toxins in the soil. Brussels sprouts reach their best flavor in fall from spring planting. If you start Chinese cabbage early, sow it in individual pots because transplanting sometimes can make it bolt to seed prematurely.

The following vegetables are not usually recommended for indoor seed sowing: asparagus, snap beans, lima beans, carrots, corn, endive (best in fall from spring outdoor sowing), parsnips (best eaten in fall), radishes, spinach (seeds germinate well in cool soil), soybeans, Swiss chard and turnips. Herbs that fit in this category include dill, cilantro and summer savor.

How to Begin

Your seed orders have arrived and you’re ready to plant. First, gather your containers. These can be special seed-starting flats, cubes or other systems ordered from a catalog; flats made from scrap wood; or a cobbled-together assortment of cut-down milk cartons, used aluminum pans, chipped pots, cottage cheese tubs, etc.

jenniferny
3/20/2015 11:41:41 AM

I would have thought that ANY article on seed starting would have included how long before planting the seeds should be started!!! Guess the author did not feel this was important enough to include!


hines
3/31/2014 6:29:37 AM

Hey thank you for this post. You must be aware of all the basis things related to seeds before planting it. Many of my doubts got cleared after reading this. If you require some finest quality seeds then you may visit http://sensiseeds.com/en/cannabis-seeds


dillons
8/17/2013 7:25:16 AM

Nacy says to prop mirrors to reflect more light to seedlings. Do NOT use mirrors They do NOT reflect light at all. Boards with flat white paint is the best reflective materiel. Mirrors absorb light.


allison day bees action network_2
2/2/2010 8:41:28 AM

Nancy Bubel's article on seed-starting basics filled me with pleasure that the time has come to think about Spring! Its really wonderful that there are so many enviro-minded people in the world. Can I just insert a note of caution on the subject of seeds. Many of the seeds planted now are F1 Hybrids. These came onto the market in 1960's and most vegetable growers rely heavily on them. For a number of years now, instead of using traditional methods of hybridization - breeders have increasingly used CMS (Cytoplasmic Male Sterility) techniques. F1 Hybrids are sterile meaning if you want the same plant next year you have to go back to the supplier for more seeds. And CMS Hybrids involve using a violent intervention technique called protoplast fusion - fusing an unrelated male sterile gene with tissue from the plant either by using chemical or an electric current intervention. These hybrids do not have to be specifically labeled (in Britain at least) and it is impossible to stop their use by organic growers who are likely to be using these seeds without knowing it. We feel that bees are suffering from chemical overload, from amongst other things, pesticides and GM crops. Are these CMS Hybrids GM? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck........ Please read the full article by Peter Brinch http://www.biodynamic.org.uk/farming-gardening/seeds/cms-hybrids-are-prohibited.html Thanks for reading and happy sowing!


russell meyers
1/29/2010 7:29:58 PM

Awesome article! Gave a lot of valuable information I needed. Just started some seeds which are growing well but the later information helps a lot!






Crowd at Seven Springs MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Sept. 15-17, 2017
Seven Springs, PA.

With more than 150 workshops, there is no shortage of informative demonstrations and lectures to educate and entertain you over the weekend.

LEARN MORE