|Best of gardening, starting new plants.|
There are many ways to get plants into your garden cuttings, started plants and seeds. Most avid vegetable gardeners like to start their own seeds. In many hardiness zones they are starting seeds now. We are also starting them as well.
We use a variety of materials to get our seeds started. The containers we used are generally repurposed ones such as milk jugs, 2L bottles, egg cartons and newspaper pots. Sustainability is our goal so we use everything we can to not only save money but to lessen our impact on the environment.
|Helping mom fill her milk jug greenhouses.|
Now down to the nitty gritty of seed starting. Whatever materials you use for your containers need to be filled with a clean healthy potting soil of some kind whether you make it or buy it. Fill your containers to just below the top. Place your seeds in and light cover them. You don’t want to bury your seeds they will expend too much energy trying to get to the surface and die.
Make sure you dampen the soil, you don’t not want to over water and drown the seeds. To begin with sunlight isn’t as important as warmth. You can place the some where warm until they break through the surface. Then you will need to make sure that they have plenty of light. Sunlight is preferable (natural is always best) if you do not have a greenhouse or enough windows then you can set up grow lights on shelving. If you are using artificial light and have access to a timer for your lights even better. You can have the timer mimic the sun’s cycle giving these new young plants 8-10 hours of light.
Keep the soil damp. As they get bigger their demand for water will increase. Do not allow the soil to become dry or the tender young roots will shrivel and the plants will die.
Once the plants have two true leaves and are at least 4 inches tall and the danger of hard frost is over you can begin hardening them off. Hardening off is getting them used to outdoor conditions. On warm days take them outside for about 4 hours. Do this for the first week. Afterwards you can increase their time outside by an hour every other day. They weather may still be cool at night but the longer you can leave your plants to allow them to acclimate to outdoor condition the less transplant shock they will suffer.
If you have used natural potting material you can put the plants potting and all directly into your garden. Otherwise very carefully remove them from the starter container. If you are careful you can reuse that container next year or for something else. Gently spread the roots a bit, trying to keep as much of the potting soil around the roots as possible. Place into a hole that is twice as deep and one and half times the diameter of the pot the plant came out of to ensure that the roots have room to spread. Water them well making sure that the soil is moist, not soaked.
Light, Love and Peace