SEED STARTING IN CONTAINERS
Indoor seed starting will give you a jump start on the gardening season and is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Starting your plants from seed will also provide you with greater plant variety options.
If you are a new gardener, don’t let seed starting scare you off. It’s simple; the key to successful seed starting is in creating the proper environment for your plant babies.
Seeds are amazingly resilient, but in order to give them the best start possible, they’ll need a little gentle nurturing to grow into healthy, vibrant plants.
In general, seeds should be started 4 to 6 weeks before the recommended outdoor planting date, so the seedlings will be large and strong enough to withstand the stresses of transplanting. Your choice of a container is not of the greatest importance, except to say that plastic is not porous and will keep potting soil from drying out too quickly. Also, size does matter! Use a small container or cell pack to start your seedlings and bump them up to a larger container as necessary.
It’s important to use a growing medium that will support the unique needs of seedlings, one that is rich in nutrients to nourish the young plants while being light and airy enough to encourage long, strong root growth. Always start your seeds with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Potting Soil [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region]. Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® offers a natural and organic premium potting blend that is perfect for seed starting. It includes high-quality ingredients like earthworm castings and kelp meal to gently nourish young seedlings as they mature into strong and vigorous plants, ready to be placed out in the garden.
Fill your chosen containers with lightly moistened Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Potting Soil [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region]. Sow seeds at the depth listed on the seed package. Water using a fine spray to help the soil soak down around the seed. Cover the container with clear plastic kitchen wrap or a plant dome to hold the moisture and increase humidity. Place the containers in a warm (70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit) spot and check daily for germination. The top of the refrigerator is often an ideal location. Seeds do not require bright light until they germinate.
Water & Light
When the first seeds germinate, remove the clear cover and place the seedlings in an area with bright sunlight or under artificial lights for up to 16 hours a day. Artificial lights should be placed as close as 2 to 3 inches from the seedling tops for best results. Never allow the soil to dry out. Check for water needs daily.
When the seedlings develop their first true sets of leaves, add half-strength water soluble fertilizer to their water – organic Fish Emulsion is great to use. Repeat once a week to provide nourishment to the rapidly growing seedlings. Thin the seedlings or transplant them to larger containers as they grow.
Before planting outdoors, harden-off the plants at least one week before the planting date. Take the transplants outdoors in the daytime and bring them in at night. Shaded and protected at first, gradually expose them to more time outdoors with lower temperatures and more sunlight.
Transplant seedlings into the garden after the safe planting date and on a calm, overcast day. Gently firm the soil around each transplant with as little root disturbance as possible. Make sure that your planting bed has been amended with plenty of Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region]. Water the transplants well and continue to keep the soil moist until the plants become established.
The use of a frost blanket, draped on wire hoops over early plantings, will aid in their transplant success, especially if a late frost is forecasted. A thin frost fabric covering draped on wire hoops can also help seedlings adjust well to their new outdoor environment by protecting them from too much sun and wind as they become established. Visit your local Master Nursery Garden Center for options.
As you can see, seed starting is not so daunting. As you gain more confidence and experience with starting seeds, you’ll be able to carefully plan a seed starting calendar to ensure a varied, productive, lush, rich, and long harvest season every year.