Begin to Plant Your Seeds

Part of the You Can Learn Landscaping and Gardening series.
By Ken Brown
February 04, 2005

It is almost spring time. Sure there is snow on the ground, but now is the time to begin thinking about starting seedlings. The seeds of today will turn into the beautiful flowers and fruit of the summer.

Basics of growing plants from seeds

What do you need to grow plants from seeds? Where do you grow them, it's winter? When do they need to be placed in soil? How do you plant the seeds? Why should you start your plants from seeds. Just go to the store and buy your tomato plants, perennials and herbs ready to plant in the ground.

Well for starters, you can save some money by starting your summer plants from seeds. For the price you pay to buy garden sized perennials, you can plant seeds that will give you a whole garden of beautiful foliage and flowers. Sometimes your local garden store doesn't have the wide variety you can get from mail order seed stores.

Some gardeners will harvest seeds from the year before and prepare them in the spring. Your only cost is the time you spend. But isn't that really enjoying your hobby? The seeds you save can be used to trade with other gardeners.

Plant seeds in the basement

Many people will plant seeds in the basement or a bedroom or even in a warm garage. My father used to start his tomatoes indoors in the basement. We lived in a tri-level home so the basement actually had windows. But he would still put a grow light on the seedlings as the winter sun wasn't out long enough to do the job.

By starting them indoors you get a head start on summer. In the upper part of theMidwest, you can't plant seeds outside until the soil warms up. Wait until your soil heats up to 65 degrees fahrenheit before planting. My dad used to keep the house temperature lower than 65 degrees. So he used a little heat lamp in the room where he grew the seedlings.

You can get seed planting trays and containers from garden supply stores and online garden catalogs.

Get soil that is known as a soilless mix. Your local garden center has the mix you need to give your seeds the best start possible. It is important there are no nasty organisms in the soil you use. That is why you should use a soilless mixture.

How to plant seeds

To plant the seeds you can use what is known as a dibble or just use a pencil to poke a hole in the soil. Then drop the seed in the hole and cover lightly with your soil mixture. Outdoors, make sure you have removed rocks and clumps of clay before planting. By the way, a dibble is nothing more than a tool to make a hole in the soil for your seeds.

Keep your seeds moist. If you plant them outside, water them everyday. Inside, keep them moist any number of ways. Create a mini greenhouse with plastic wrap. Put a little sprinkler type system in place or water them with a watering can with a gentle spray. You don't want to wash the seeds away.

After the seeds germinate remove the plastic so the seeds get air. Light, air and water are most important at this point. Light needed is more than 6 hours a day. Try 12 hours a day, which is why most indoor gardeners get grow lights. Gro lights can just be fluorescent lights normally used as shop lighs.

Garden plants to start indoors

Brussel Sprouts

Now that the seeds have sprouted and appear to be thriving and growing it is time to take them outside. Do it gradually. Kind of like sunbathers from the North taking a vacation in the Carribbean. You don't jump out in the sun for 12 hours that first day. You transition to full exposure slowly. Gradually place your plants outdoors a little at a time. Start with 4 hours in the shade and over 2 weeks or so transition the plants to their final home in your garden.

If you use a container that will decompose in the ground, then you plant container and all in the ground. Otherwise, pull the plant gently out of the container being sure to bring as much of the soil as possible with the roots. The plants are tender and need to feel like they are still at home.

Annuals can be grown from seed also. But start them early, so the plant is strong and hardy before the transition to the garden. Annuals that can be successfully started indoors.

Annuals to grow from seeds

Dusty Miller

So try it out this winter. Now is the time to get the supplies you need and begin to look for seeds. Not all seed stock is the same. Some can be old and won't germinate. So get your seeds from a reputable dealer. Follow their directions. They want you to be successful with your plants so you will buy from them next year.

  1. Get the seeds
  2. Prepare the soil
  3. Plant the seeds
  4. Water regularly (Keep moist)
  5. Provide plenty of light and fresh air
  6. Transition to the garden slowly
  7. Enjoy the fruits of your labor
Happy gardening, even in the winter.

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