Spring has sprung …at least on the calendar. Thankfully, in many parts of the country the weather seems to be following suit. This means that many Canadians have begun to think about planting a garden. But, if you’re new to gardening, you might not realize that you can get your garden started before you even turn that first spade of soil outside?
Starting seeds indoors can not only help gardeners save on the cost of buying seedling, but by nursing your own seedlings you just might find that you feel closer to the growing process.
First and foremost, before you even purchase a packet of seeds, you’ll want to determine which zone you’re in. You can visit Natural Resources Canada for this information. This will tell you when you can plant what outdoors. This is especially important to know before you begin starting any seeds indoors, because starting seeds too early can result in plants that are leggy and poorly developed.
Once you’ve determined your zone, consult the individual seed packet for each plant and plan to start your seeds six (or so) weeks prior to the listed time for outdoor sowing.
What to Plant
As far as what type of seeds to start indoors, it’s really up to you. However, you’ll really want to stick with annuals and vegetables.
Of course this is by no means an exhaustive list, but merely an example of some veggies and flowers to get your going.
How to Sprout and Nurse Seeds
To sprout your seeds indoors you will need to gather a few things before you get started.
Container: Most people think about starting seeds in those plastic boxes with the little growing pods that can be found at any garden centre, but that doesn’t mean they’re your only option. In fact, you can probably find good containers to start your seeds in around the house. Try using toilet paper rolls, milk cartons cut lengthwise or even empty eggshell halves!
Planting Medium: This is where many new gardeners tend to go wrong. When it comes to starting seeds indoors, you don’t want to reach for a bag of potting soil. What you want is a good-quality seed starting mix.
Plant Markers: This is where you can get creative with wooden picks, labels applied to each containers or anything else that strikes your fancy. However, no matter what you choose to mark your plants, it is something that you need to do. This is because seedlings tend to look alike and there are certain plants that shouldn’t be grown closely together once they go into the ground.
Light:For most home gardeners, especially those just starting out, the light source for seed starting will be a nice bright window. However, keep in mind that insufficient lighting does not result in strong seedlings. If you don’t have a window that allows good light or if you’re really serious about your new hobby, you’ll want to purchase some grow lights to give your little plantlings several hours of artificial sunshine.
Now that you know what to plant and what supplies you need, here’s how to get started!
1. Fill your containers with pre-moistened planting medium.
2. Plant your seeds according to the directions on each seed packet.
3. Lightly mist the seedlings, but take care not to overwater them. You’ll want to mist them every other day.
4. Some gardeners will seal their seedlings in a plastic bag or cover the growing tray with a plastic dome. However, if you plan to do this, keep an eye on your seedlings to ensure that the soil isn’t soggy. A seedling trying to grow soggy soil and with poor circulation can contract a fungal disease.
5. Once your seeds have sprouted, snip the smallest of the bunch, allowing the strongest to have growing room.
6. Once your seedling as a set of true leaves you can then think about transplanting into a permanent growing container or directly into the dirt once your zone’s planting date has arrived.