Landscape & Hardscape Ideas

Sprout some spring: starting plants indoors

This winter weather can give us a case of cabin fever. If going out isn’t in the cards, bust that boredom by bringing a bit of the outdoors in and starting some seeds inside.

Starting up plants from seeds is the least expensive method for populating your garden. It’s also a fun longer-term project for kids that teaches patience and careful attention to detail. Watching seeds grow is fun, and for that you can choose any seed; put it in a pot of soil and see what comes up. However, plants for the garden may take more planning.

Find your sill

Different plants have different sun and shade requirements. Keep the plants’ outdoor bedding place in mind. Do you have a window sill where the seedlings will experience similar daylight hours? This would be the optimal indoor placement. If not, growing lamps can be used. Get familiar with the sunlight and watering needs of each particular plant and seedling.

Find your seeds

We all are familiar with the Burpee seeds packets in the rotating stand in the supermarket, but Burpee isn’t the only way to go. Many other seed distributors exist and have less expensive price tags. Gardening fan forums are full of other suggestions for outlets and distributors. One piece of advice is to check auction site eBay for brands like Grocseeds and Hirts. Burpee may fit your needs, but a little investigation into other brands may give you some new ideas and save you some money.

Find your “soil”

Seedlings aren’t typically set into ground soil. Instead, nurseries place them in a fluffy, absorbent, peaty mix that absorbs and holds water and contains very little surface soil at all. Some seedling soil mixes contain the nutrients the plant needs, but many do not. Get a nutrient additive made specifically for the kind of plant you’re seeding to add to your potting mix.

Find your sweet spot

Germinating seeds need a moist and warm environment. Too wet or too dry soil will kill the sprouts. Mist seeds and cover the pots with plastic wrap to create a mini greenhouse. Once the seedlings grow tall enough to poke above the surface, place the pots in a tray that can hold water. Watering from the bottom up allows the soil to absorb what it needs. Check the state of the soil daily. Not having the right amount of water is probably the most common mistake when germinating seeds inside.

Find your situation

Location, type of seed, and potting mix are the major elements for starting seeds inside, but a calendar can also help. Sprouting plants must be installed in the garden at a certain week in the growth process. The seed packet will give an estimate of which week after seeding the plant should be placed outside. Some measurements are based on weather events such as the last frost, so some prediction is required on the part of the gardener. Weather resources online can provide previous dates of “last frost” that will help you guess the right time for planting your seedlings. Many forums and sites have a welcoming invitation for any new gardner out there. Do some research on “seedlings for beginners” and things to know. It’s a great learning experience for the whole family. And seeing a little bit of green while the cold winter wind blows will melt anyone’s heart.

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