Tips on Planting Vegetable Seeds the from Experts
I am a bit of a newbie in the world of gardening; I’ve only been at it for three full seasons and am getting ready to start my fourth. I have absolutely fallen in love with the process. Even though I’ve learned a lot over the past several years, I don’t consider myself an expert in the field. However, I love to chat with the experts and learn from their years of expertise, because gleaning from their knowledge is an absolute time saver. I reached out to a couple of my favorite local garden centers along with a few garden/farm friends that have more skill than I and here are their tips on planting vegetable seeds.
What qualifies a good seed starter soil when planting vegetable seeds?
Just like reading food labels, you have to read soil labels. Patti (A Garden Manager), suggests that we all need a soil starter that includes these two ingredients; Coco Coir mixed with perlite.
Since I simply purchase what she tells me to buy because I trust her, I went in search to learn more about these products and how they are helpful to our seedlings.
In short, coco coir amends the soil helping with aeration, soil strengthening and hydration. To learn more about this ingredient check out this link: https://www.groworganic.com/blogs/articles/benefits-of-using-coco-coir-in-the-garden
Perlite is also a natural resource that in short helps with hydration and comes from volcanoes. You can learn more about it here: https://www.trees.com/gardening-and-landscaping/perlite
Wetting Vegetable Seeds:
Read the back of the package to see what seeds actually need to be soaked and which ones do not prior to planting. For example, most seeds will not need soaking but some beans need to be soaked 12 to 24 hours before planting.
While according to some, beets don’t normally have to be soaked, one of my friends who owns a farm swears that her beets grow better when she soaks them for a couple of hours before planting. I will be trying the beet soak this year.
When planting seeds that don’t require soaking, I mist my soil, add the seeds, mist the seeds, and then cover them to their proper depth with my starter soil and mist the topsoil when I’m planting any seed. So far, it’s working! It’s my way of sprinkling a little love.
Watering your Vegetable Seeds:
Be careful how you water newly planted seeds, pouring water onto them can disturb the sprouting and rooting process. Mist them with a water bottle until they sprout. Once they have sprouted and begun to gain strength, switch to bottom watering. This draws the roots down towards the water.
Make sure that your seedling planters have holes in the bottom. Add water to the tray underneath them. If there is a pool of water at the bottom and they aren’t soaking it up, it means they have too much. Patti (Garden Manager) recommends removing the excess water with a turkey baster; kitchen utensils have more than one job sometimes.
Thinning your Growing Seedlings:
Typically when you are growing from seed you will have more than one sprout in each small planter. Let the plants grow until you have three sets of leaves before removing the excess plants. Yes, you can only keep one and you want the plant with the strongest stem.
Can you keep the extras? Typically not! The weaker stems are hard to transplant and often die off; it’s my least favorite part.
Is a Grow Light necessary for Growing from Seed?
Not if you have adequate natural lighting. If you use natural lighting, turn the tray each day to help the growth of your plants. The benefit of using overhead lighting is that the plants grow upwards and tend to grow straighter.
Heating mats work great for growing vegetable plants from seed. I have a friend that starts her seeds close to her wood stove; it’s a similar concept and it costs less to implement!
Fertilizing your Seeds?
Patti (Garden Manager) recommends that you do not fertilize your seedlings until your plants have grown at least 4 inches tall. If you fertilize too soon you can actually damage the growth process and risk burning the plants. Ouch!
Transferring the Vegetable Plants Outdoors
According to the experts, the rule of thumb is to plan on a two-week period of hardening off the plants before transplanting. This means you bring your plants outside during the day and back in at night until they adjust. If you are planting cold-weather plants, don’t start until 2 weeks after the last frost with warmer days and night temps that don’t dip below 50 degrees.
So, if you really don’t want to be bothered, I suggest you buy plants from your local gardens center that are already established.
Cold-Weather Vegetable Plants
Cold-weather plants can be sowed directly outside if you want to avoid the two-week in and out period. Items that are considered cold-weather vegetable plants include lettuce, spinach, kale, and cabbage varieties.
I hope you found these tips on planting vegetable seeds helpful. If you have additional tips you would like to share with readers, or me, on beginning your garden from seed please leave a comment below. This article is just a start of a much deeper-rooted conversation!
Did you know I am the author of ‘Fidget Grows a Pizza Garden’? Check out this delightful tale of a young girl who plants a pizza garden and discovers that her plants don’t actually grow pizza! You can discover more about my community Author Visits by clicking here.