For years I was intimidated at the thought of gardening, especially when it came to starting from “scratch” with seeds. I used to think gardening consisted of popping potted geraniums in the ground and pulling a few weeds. My devotion to reading Southern Living and Martha Stewart Living expanded my fledgling knowledge of gardening, and I began to realize that starting with seeds was not only an economical way to garden, it gives you access to a wider variety of plants than your local garden center can offer. I can see the avid gardeners out there shaking their heads at me, but for the rest of you, read on!
and her presentation showed the gorgeous garden and grounds at her Connecticut home. She also discussed planning her garden for the home in Charleston, South Carolina that she recently purchased. It was just the motivation I needed to kick-start my seed growing on this snowy day.
The rule of thumb in central Virginia for transplanting seedlings is to do so no earlier April 15. Seeds take appromately 4-6 weeks to germinate and grow substantially enough to transplant, so I expect to be transplanting early to mid-May. That will give me time to prepare the soil, and pull up the stubborn strawberry plants and weeds after the snow melts and ground thaws. This is my very small plot of land that receives morning sun, about 6-7 hours direct, just barely enough to support my tomatoes.
This year in addition to a variety of tomatoes, basil and sunflowers, I hope to grow lettuce, assuming I can keep the bunnies out. Again, another reason to start from seed: if the critters get to your plants, you haven’t invested a lot of $$ in them.
To grow plants from seed, you will need:Grow Light Plant trays with clear lids Table for grow light and plant trays to sit (optional) Seeds Potting Soil Plant markers Pencil with eraser head, chopstick or dowel rod Water spray bottle Small watering can
The Grow Light is the key ingredient. I purchased this Jump Start T5 Grow Light System (available from our Gracious Posse Shoppe)
and set it up in my basement on a long pub table. It is not an elegant, chic or Pinterest-worthy setting, but it does get the job done.
Step 1. Pour soil into trays, about one inch thick
Step 2. Poke holes in soil with pencil eraser head or chopstick
Step 3. Place a few seeds in each hole, cover lightly with soil. The backs of the seed packets have helpful planting instructions.
Step 4. Mark the seed locations with plant markers. Date the markers if you are starting seeds on more than one day.
Step 5. Lightly water seedings; don’t flood.
Step 6. Cover trays with clear lids.
Step 7. Turn on light. Lower the lamp to about 6-7″ above the trays. Leave the light on during the day; turn out at night.
Step 8. Mist the plants with water and use watering can to water the soil as needed. Do not let plants dry out or over water them.
Step 9. At some point the plants will grow taller than the plastic lids; remove lids. After plants reach a sturdy size, take the trays outside for a day or two to acclimate the plants to the weather before transplanting. Bring them in at night.
Step 10. Remove plants from trays and place in prepared soil in your garden.
Step 11. Pat yourself on the back!
Once the supplies are corralled, the process doesn’t take more than 45 minutes. If you want to start small, just start herbs or lettuce for outdoor containers. I hope that you feel inspired to try and find the satisfaction that gardening from scratch can bring.
March 27, 2013