STARTING YOUR OWN PLANTS FROM SEED
It's mid-March. Temperatures are on the rise, Tulips and Daffodils are emerging and I saw our first robin. Spring is showing everywhere and it's time to think about planting.
Don't be afraid of starting your own plants from seed. I like to do it because it extends my garden experience by several months. Does it save me money? I'm not sure that it does, but I don't know of any hobby that is done for financial savings. Just understand a few things before you get started.
DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. There are a lot of reasons why seeds may fail so don't be quick to blame yourself. Not all seeds are viable. Failed germination may not be your fault. Seeds will germinate when conditions are right; depth, temperature, light and water. If these conditions are not right the seeds may remain dormant until they are. 'Surprise' germination is common months later when conditions hit the ideal.
DEPTH: As a general rule of thumb, seeds are planted at the depth of the thickness of the seed; some more and some less. Very small seeds are often not covered at all. When you purchase seeds, the package will give planting instructions.
TEMPERATURE: The ideal temperature range for germination will be indicated on seed packets. It is best to maintain a constant temperature as much as possible. Humi-domes help to regulate temperature as well as moisture. Save your cookie and pastry containers; they make good humi-domes.
LIGHT: Light is very crucial to germination and initial plant growth. If there is insufficient light but conditions are otherwise good, seedlings will sprout and grow tall and leggy in search of light. I know this well and yet every year I get so anxious for spring that I start seeds way too early. The greenhouse affords all the right conditions with the exception of light and leggy little seedlings struggle. Wait to start your seeds 6 to 8 weeks prior to the time you plan to set them in the garden. Some seeds require light to germinate and should not be covered; the seed packet will tell you.
WATER: Keeping the seeds moist during germination is important. Bottom watering helps to protect tender sprouts from wash out. Misting with a spray bottle will add moisture without harming the sprouts. Humi-domes or even just a plastic film checks evaporation and speeds up germination.
SOIL AND CONTAINER: Soil specifically formulated for seed germination can be purchased at any garden or greenhouse center. You can also blend your own soil using peat moss, sand and vermiculite. Many seeds are very small and so the soil mix should not be course; large air spaces can reduce the rate of germination. The container you use to germinate your seeds makes little difference. Smaller containers may dry out faster and quickly become root bound, but sometimes it helps to start small and then move new plants to a larger container when necessary.
SEEDS: Collecting your own seeds from your own garden can also be rewarding.
Empty prescription bottles are great for collecting and storing seeds. Watch your favorite flowers as the blooms fade and seeds develop. Late in the season the pods will begin to dry off and crack letting you know the seeds are ready to harvest.
There are many online sources for seeds. One of my favorites is outsidepride.com Here are some more, just to mention a few: Jung Seed: Vegetable Seed, Flower Seed, and Garden Supplies Gurney's - America's Most Complete Seed and Nursery (gurneys.com) Seeds for Sale - Buy Garden Seeds | Park Seed®
A helpful site for seed germination is 10 Tips for Germinating Seeds | Happy DIY Home