Garden magazines along with local retailers are teasing us with seed starting kits. Keep in mind that most of your seedlings will be planted outside in late April and or early May, once all danger of frost has passed. So depending upon the seeds germination period the earliest you will be planting your seeds inside will be the later part of February.
It may be to early to start your seedlings yet it certainly is not to early to start thinking about what you want to grow this year, along with what supplies you have on hand to use and what supplies you need to acquire.
The process and supplies are simple, you need some containers like cottage cheese, butter, egg cartons, etc., which you will pin prick small holes in the bottom for drainage. All purpose house plant soil is great to use for seed starting or you can use some from your garden. If using soil from your garden you will want to sterilize it first to make sure you are not transferring any disease, bugs or weeds. To sterilize your garden soil, bake it in the oven at 170 to 180 degrees for two hours. You will want to fill your containers to overflowing with your soil. You fill your containers to overflowing so the air will flow over the soil and help to avoid damp-off disease. Next you are going to plant your seeds. Make sure and follow the directions on your seed packet regarding planting depth, spacing and timing. After you have planted your seeds, I recommend sprinkling some ground cinnamon over the top of the soil in order to further prevent the damp-off disease. Next you are going to gently water the plants with warm water. I mention “gently water” and “warm water”, because you don’t want to push your seeds into a corner to grow and the use of warm water will help your plants germinate. Continue to keep your plants moist with warm water until they start to grow, then you should water as directed per the seed packet.
After you have planted your seeds you will want to place them in a well lighted area that maintains good air circulation. The temperature where the pots are placed should range between upper 60’s and lower 70’s. If you do not have actual sunlight for the plants to receive you can use fluorescent lights and if you are concerned about the air temperature you can purchase one of the seed starter kits that come with a dome. The dome will act like an incubator for your seeds, you will remove the dome once your seeds have started to grow. Make sure and turn the pots so the plants aren’t arching towards their light source once they have started growing above the soil. After your seedlings have two to tree leaves you can transplant them to larger containers and start the process over with new seeds in your seedling pots.
The main points to remember are to have fun, don’t make the process harder than it is and never plant your babies outside until all danger of frost has passed!