A lot of people prefer to start their plants from seed because it’s the cheapest way. The cost of seeds is usually less than $1, but the price of a plant starts at about $5. If you’re trying to grow your own garden to save money, starting from seed is a good idea! In addition, you can get a lot more variety by planting seeds instead of buying starter plants.
However, if you aren’t careful and dedicated, starting your garden from seed can be a very tedious and frustrating process! This is why it’s important to pick the method that works best for you:
Starting your garden with pots
This is probably the most popular way to plant seeds. It’s good if you don’t have a lot of space and if you want to grow several types of plants at once. You can use recycled containers such as yogurt cups, egg shells or even toilet paper tubes; anything that has holes for drainage will work. The only thing you need to figure out is the size of the pot – you need to know how much soil and what kind to use for your plants, but there are usually instructions on seed packets.
It’s a good idea to start your seeds in a sunny place, either outside or under a lamp indoors. You can also make a cold frame or a cloche (airtight glass container with a clear top) out of old windows or jars to protect your seedlings.
Getting your pots ready for sowing
Fill the pot with soil up to about halfway. Of course, this will depend on how large your container is. If it’s very small, you’ll only need an inch; if it’s large, you’ll need up to two inches. Then, dampen the soil until it’s moist but not soggy.
Sow your seeds about one inch apart, making sure they are covered with a thin layer of soil. It is very important that there isn’t too much soil covering them or they will not germinate! You can water them from below if you want to. Otherwise, put the pot in a tray and set it under bright lights or place it on top of your refrigerator so there is enough heat for the seeds to sprout.
After your seeds have sprouted, remove any plastic covering you may have around the containers because it no longer serves a purpose. You can also transplant your seedlings to bigger pots if you want – they will need room to grow. If they are starting to look crowded in their original containers, it’s better to transplant them as soon as possible into something that has more space. Otherwise, just leave them for another couple of weeks until they have really started to grow.
Be careful not to “uproot” your seedlings when you transplant them! Just tilt them gently so the soil comes loose, but keep the stem in place. If you take out the entire plant at once it will damage the roots which can stunt your plants’ growth later on.
To gradually accustom your seedlings to the outdoors, leave them outside for an hour or two during the day. This will prepare them for their new life as productive plants in your garden!
Starting your garden with trays
Trays are great if you want to grow a lot of one type of plant. You can use recycled trays such as plastic containers with holes on the bottom, yogurt cups or even eggshells. It’s a good idea to line them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil first to make sure the soil doesn’t fall out.
Make holes in your pots if necessary so there is enough drainage. Fill each container with moistened seed starting mix up to about an inch from the top and sow seeds about one inch apart. Then, cover them with a thin layer of soil and water from below.
Getting your trays ready for planting
It will likely be a few weeks before your seedlings are large enough to transplant into bigger pots or into the ground. When this time comes, you’ll have to get rid of any plastic wrap from your trays and arrange them so there is about an inch of space all around the seedlings.
One thing you can do is to make a little trench in the dirt where you want your plants to go and then tilt them out of their containers into it – or, as we said above, lift them out with the soil and set them gently into the trench.
This is a useful technique if you’re planting several plants of the same type – just dig one hole, drop in your plant and fill up the trench with soil. It saves a lot of time!
Starting your garden with the soilless pot method
As we mentioned above, soilless pot method is a great option for starting seeds in a nutritious growing medium. Just make sure you use a good quality one which contains peat moss, perlite and vermiculite, such as Pro-Mix BX or SM 90 .
This method is useful if you don’t have many plants to grow but want them to be healthy. You can use pots or trays (again, covered with plastic wrap). Fill them with the potting mix and sow your seeds in it.
Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and water from below, leaving only the top of the seed sticking out. Then, put them in a bright place where they will get enough heat to help them germinate.
As long as you make sure the soil stays moist, your seedlings should be okay and begin to emerge after a few days – but it will take about ten more weeks before they’re ready for transplanting into bigger pots or into your garden!
Growing your plants with soil blocks
Soil blocks are a great option if you want to grow larger quantities of seeds in pots or trays. They are very efficient because one block can contain several growing “chambers” which you can later separate and transplant into bigger containers.
This method also helps reduce the risk of fungal infections, which other types of soil may be prone to. You’ll only need peat moss, vermiculite and perlite to prepare your own growing medium.
Just keep in mind that this process can take up to ten days, so it’s not something you can do right before your weekend getaway!
To make soil blocks, mix the three components of your soil with water (so everything is evenly moist) and then, use a cup to pour the mixture into aluminum trays. This will make little mounds which you should compress with your hands.
Then, cover each mound with plastic wrap to trap in heat while the blocks are drying out. Once they’re ready – usually after about four days – take them out of the trays and store them in a ventilated plastic bag.
You can use a pencil, dowel or even a straw to make holes throughout the soil blocks. Place one seed inside each hole and cover it with moistened potting mix. Once more, place the trays under artificial lights until your seedlings emerge – usually after about ten days of waiting!
There are many ways to start your garden plants. You can use pots, trays, garden tins or soil blocks. Whatever method you choose will depend on what type of gardener you are and how much time you have to dedicate to caring for them. The best thing about starting your plants from seed is that it eliminates the need to buy expensive nursery plants!