Spring gardening season has begun and while many are still a few weeks or months from planting in soil, it is time (or past time) to get those seeds started!
There is something so rewarding as a new gardener about starting seeds for spring gardening and eventually getting to plant those in your garden. Starting seeds can sometimes be tricky and it is very overwhelming when you are new. Last year was my first year to start seeds and I did not have the greatest success, but this year I was determined.
We have been busy working away on getting seeds started, cool weather crops planted and the garden boxes in order. This year we built a small little greenhouse that is working perfectly for our first year with it. We used material we had laying around and it has worked out really well.
Last year I attempted to start seeds and a few survived to plant but many did not. It was my first year and I jumped in head first with no idea what I was doing. I learned a lot and came back this year with some improvement in tools, strategy and success. I am still no where near a great gardener but I have improved from last year and hope to get better each year.
This year we started our seeds in the house and once we had the greenhouse ready we moved them out to the greenhouse. I wanted to share a few tips and encouragement from a new gardener on starting seeds for spring gardening.
What We Have Started This Year For Our Spring Garden
Tomato- Roma and Cherry
Cucumber- Pickling and Bush
I also plan to plant Sweet Pea’s and Jarrahdale pumpkins. We planted a few peony bulbs and we have lettuce going.
How Do You Start Seeds Indoors In Spring?
Plan And Prep
This is where I usually overthink everything and get excited way too early. But this step is important to make sure you start seeds at the right time and start the plants that need it. Some plants are direct sow and will do better this way.
Start by planning exactly what you want to grow. This year I decided to focus on herbs and flowers. We are limited on space and time right now so I had to narrow down my focus. Vegetables are easy to find locally from other farmers or hobby gardeners where flowers and herbs are a little harder to come by. We chose to still grow a few staples that eat regularly (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbage). For these I plan to preserve most- except the lettuce- by canning and fermenting into cabbage and pickles.
Write out a list of what you would like to grow. You can even plan out where in the garden these will go with a simple drawing of your beds or garden space.
Then you will order your seeds. My favorite places to get seeds that are not as common is Johnny’s and Baker’s Creek. I have also had luck with Burpee Organic but they do not have as many varieties available in store. I hope to try a few more companies in the future.
Once you have your seeds, you will want to determine your estimated last frost date with just a simple internet search for your area. Then read your seed packet to determine how early to start the seed before the last frost date, or if you even need to. Plan for each seed accordingly.
I shared a post on how I began planning and prepping for spring gardening for the year here.
Gather Your Tools
Once you are ready to start, you will gather all your supplies and plan for a great day of starting seeds. It is likely that you will plant different seeds at different times so this may stretch out over a few days. You will need:
Seed starting trays, cups or even eggshells/cartons
Humidity dome or plastic wrap
Seed starting mix or potting mix
Grow light or large window
Start With Soil
Start by filling your seed tray with soil 3/4 of the way to the top. Loosely pack it.
Next, using a pencil or your finger, create shallow holes.
Then Add Your Seeds
Drop 1-3 seeds in each hole.
The larger the seed, the deeper it should be planted. Do not plant too deep. For example, a pumpkin seed is much larger than a daisy seed. The pumpkin seed will be planted much further than the daisy seed as well.
Cover And Water
Fill back over the seeds loosely with soil.
Use a spray bottle or light hand to water the seeds. Cover with plastic.
Be sure that your seeds are placed in a bright and warm space. This can be in a greenhouse with grow lights, sitting in a large window, or anywhere warm and with light. The light being placed correctly will help with the strength of your plants. A light that is too far away can cause your plants to become leggy and not able to stand up properly. This is the most common issue I have had.
Also be sure to check the soil daily and water if needed. Keep the soil wet but not soaked for multiple days in a row. Use a spray bottle or something that can lightly water so as to not mess with your seed.
Keep the humidity dome or plastic wrap on to hold in moisture and heat. Once the seeds have sprouted and germinated, this can be removed.
What Seeds Should Not Be Started Indoors?
Some plants grow very quickly or do not like to be disturbed with transplanting. I have listed a few below:
What Happens If You Start Seeds Too Early?
The main issue with starting seeds too early is that they will become too big and will need repotted into bigger pots multiple times before being transplanted outside. Or they start to bloom indoors before getting outside. This can not only cost you more money but also be incredibly annoying. Starting too early can also increase the likelihood of leggy plants or issue with the plants which is especially true for those starting indoors without grow lights.