May 4, 2012

Starting Seeds


Five things I've learned from starting garden seeds indoors.

1 - Where you purchase your seeds makes a difference. In the past I have ordered my seeds from the company whose big catalog comes in the mail each spring. Many of these seeds have been genetically modified to produce bigger yields, larger fruit, etc. This all sounds good but these fruits and vegetables aren't as flavorful, and can be harmful to your health. I chose to purchase my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. They offer pure, natural, non GMO seeds. You can read more about GMO (genetically modified organisms) here.

2 - It's harder than I thought it would be. This is my 2nd attempt at starting seeds for my garden. You can read about last years attempt here and here. Basically, none of my plants from last year survived once I put them in the ground. I ended up purchasing most of my plants from the nursery.

3 - Don't use popsicle sticks as plant markers. I got a great deal on a huge box of wooden popsicle sticks from Amazon. I used a sharpie to write each plant name on a stick and stuck them in the dirt with the seeds. Several days later, after soaking up the daily watering, the popsicle sticks started growing mold. Next time I will use plastic plant markers. If anyone knows of a fun craft project that uses 1000 popsicle sticks, let me know.

4 - Use bigger containers. This is still an experiment from last year when I started my seeds in smaller containers and then lost them when I transplanted them to larger ones after they had sprouted. My idea this year was to start the seeds in larger, deeper containers thus eliminating the need to transplant. This should also allow the root system to develop better.

5 - Plants need light. For the first several weeks after planting my seeds I had them sitting in front of a large, south facing window. Unfortunately, the days were rather cloudy so the seeds didn't get much sunlight. Once I purchased this light system I noticed a difference right away. Instead of long, spindly stems with a few leaves on top, my plants were shorter but had fuller, bigger leaves.

Even with my new approach this year I have lost a few plants. I am hopeful however that I will be able to move several plants outdoors successfully. As I continue to learn and adjust my method I hope each year is more and more successful. Please share any tips you have learned about starting seeds indoors!

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