When it comes to successfully starting vegetable and flower plants from seed – it all begins with having the right seed starting supplies on hand long before the day you need them.
Contrary to popular belief, starting plants from seed isn’t complicated. Nor does it have to be expensive and time-consuming.
But what it does take is a little planning.
It all starts with knowing what you want to grow. And – how much you want to grow of each vegetable or flower. (See: Wintertime Garden Planning)
Once you have that down – it’s time to get those seeds ordered. And whatever you do, don’t procrastinate. Order seeds early!
Ordering seeds early ensures you get the quantities and varieties you want. But more importantly, it means you will have them on hand in plenty of time to get them started.
Typical vegetable and flower seedlings need anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks of growth before they are ready to transplant outdoors. And that doesn’t include the 7 to 14 days they need to germinate and sprout.
So as you see, the key is being prepared to grow now!
Here is a look at the 5 basic seed starting supplies you need to be ready to grow your own plants this year.
Seed Starting Supplies – The 5 Basic Items You Need For Success
#1 Start With A High Quality Seed Starting Mix
When starting seeds, it is absolutely vital to use more than ordinary garden or potting soil. All dirt is not created equal!
To get seeds to germinate fast, strong and true, you need a loose, fertile, well-draining soil mix.
That can be accomplished one of two ways. Either by purchasing a quality seed-starting mix, or making your own.
A great seed starting mix should be light, airy, and contain plenty of nutrients for young seedlings to feed from.
If you will be purchasing a commercial mix, be sure it has soil-lightening ingredients such as perlite, vermiculite or peat moss. Many organic soil mixes will contain pulverized compost or worm castings as well.
Compost and/or worm castings are excellent additions to seed starting soil mixes. Not only do they provide a source of nutrients for young seedlings, they also helps to conserve moisture in the soil.
You can also create your own great mix, by following the simple formula below. Just mix all of the ingredients thoroughly in a 5 gallon pail and you are ready to go! Product Link : Worm Castings
Homemade Seed Starting Mix
1) 1 part potting soil
2) 1 part compost (pulverized) or worm castings
3) 1 part vermiculite
4) 1 part peat moss
5) 1 part sand
#2 Use Quality, Fresh, Seeds
You’ll have the best luck with good quality seeds that are fresh.
Seeds that have been stowed away for years tend to have a much lower germination and success rate.
When purchasing from stores, look at the packing date on the seed packet. If it has been in the packet for more than a year, it is best to pass. See : The Best Garden Seed Catalogs
There are also some amazing on-line seed companies that offer fresh seeds at great prices – many with free shipping! There is nothing like the ease of ordering next year’s garden from the comfort of your home!
#3 Seed Trays & Pots
You will also need to have a supply of seed trays or pots on hand. The amount of course, will all depend on how many plants you want to grow,
The possibilities for homemade remedies are endless. Cardboard egg cartons, egg shells, yogurt containers, and even toilet paper rolls can make excellent homemade seed starting vessels. See : How To Make Bio-Degradable Homemade Seed Starting Containers
If you will be purchasing seed trays and packets, there are a lot of options to choose from.
Although you can find seed trays that can start up to 72 plants, using trays with a larger space for each plant can save you from having to transplant.
Trays that hold 32 plants are usually more than large enough to grow a plant from seed to the garden without the worry of having to transplant again. Product Link : 32 Cell Seed Trays
Lights – Why A Windowsill Is Not The Answer
If you want to grow vegetable and flowers from seeds indoors, a sunny windowsill is not the answer!
The “sunny windowsill” method is quite simply a recipe for seedling disaster.
The angle and distance of the sun in the winter makes it hard for seedlings to grow well. Plants grown in sunny window light end up weak and spindly.
They are constantly reaching for the far away light of the sun. It results in seedlings that are tall, thin, and unable to handle the stress of transplanting when it comes time to put them outdoors.
Fluorescent Lights – An Inexpensive Solution For Grow Lights
Although you can purchase a wide variety of growing lights, when it comes to raising seedlings, they simply are not necessary.
Standard fluorescent shop lights actually work perfectly for raising vegetable and flower seedlings.
The cool bright light of fluorescent bulbs, when placed an inch or so above the tops of the plants, work great for growing strong and healthy plants.
It is an inexpensive solution to high-priced growing lights. Although they have a place for growing specialty plants – they simply are not needed for starting seeds.
#5 Spray Bottle For Watering
Last, make sure you have a spray bottle on hand for gentle watering when seedlings first emerge.
Spray bottles make it easy to keep the soil moist without damaging tender seeds as they germinate.
So get those seed starting supplies now and get ready to grow your own vegetables and flowers like a pro next year!
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