Seeds are an economical way to grow and a wonderful way to teach children about the magic of plants and gardening. Read on for our best growing tips for sowing your seeds.
'A Seed is a Promise' was a book I read to my kids when they were young and it always remained in my thoughts because growing seeds is a promise in so many ways; a promise to the earth, a promise of food or flowers, a promise to spring. There is something about sowing seeds, watching the little sprouts push though the earth and begin to grow, that inspires true joy in gardeners both young and old.
Many seeds can be started inside in winter, or early spring, while others are planted outdoors right into the garden. Want to try starting seeds this season? Here are few of the most important tips to consider:
It’s All in the Soil
A good weed free light seed starting mix is essential! Never ever start seeds in black earth or topsoil. These types of soil are too heavy with poor drainage and easily gets compacted which suffocates small tender roots. Always choose a soil mix specifically for seeding which should contain lots of vermiculite, peat or perlite. Wet the soil well ( not soaking wet) before filling your seeds trays or pots.
Read the Package
If the package says to start the seeds inside a specific amount of weeks before then be sure to follow those instructions. If the directions state they are best planted directly outdoors in spring then listen to them, there’s a reason they went through the trouble to write the growing instructions on the package. Gardeners often get stir crazy in winter and want to get their hands in the dirt or think that starting seeds earlier will result in bigger plants. Starting plants too early will only result in long stringy weak plants that are more susceptible to disease.
Good Light is Key
It is often hard to have a good bright light source indoors without grow lights. The sunniest window with the longest amount of daylight is your best choice. This can be a challenge in winter months. If your seedlings start to lean towards the window turn them every few days. Grow lights are optimal.
Watering & Growing
Sow the seeds in a moistened mix as mentioned above. Cover the containers to hold in humidity while the seeds germinate with either the cover from your kit, or with a loose plastic sheet. Provide good heat during the germination process( place on a radiator or heating mat). Once sprouted, remove the cover and water them from the bottom (pour water in the tray). Never water from the top as this can result in disease (especially a fungus disease called "damping off") and may dislodge or damage the sprouts. Always make sure that air circulates freely so humidity isn't trapped around the seedling.
Always watch the weather as each spring is different. Many a carefully nurtured tomato seedling has been killed by a May frost or their growing slowed down by cold soil. Protect all your hard work by always planting later rather than earlier. Be sure to introduce your plants to the outdoors gradually, a process called 'hardening off'. Start for a few hours one spring day, and then a few hours more the next - give your plants a taste of the outdoors but bring them in at night. After a week or so, they will have acclimated to the outdoors and will be ready to transplant.
“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”
P.S. If you find you still have questions or would like additional assistance, be sure to head to your local garden centre and their experts will be able to assist you further.