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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seed Starting Indoors: Pictures

Starting seeds indoors is easy, very easy. It will save you quite a bit of money too and it allows you to germinate plants you might not find in your local area.


You need to buy seed starting mix. It is inexpensive. It is sterile. You can make it yourself if you choose. If you make it yourself you should follow 1 part peat moss: 1part vermiculite: 1 part perlite. You can exclude 1 of the latter two. You would also need to put lime in the mix to manage the ph of the peat moss. I used to make it. Now I just buy it on sale. You also need a seed starting tray.

Fill the tray with seed starting mix. And this is important, pack each cell of mix down with your thumb and refill. You want to make sure the mix is nicely packed in each cell. I you don't your seeds can drop to the bottom. I prefer to have a lot of seed starting mix in each cell because I over plant my cells.



Next pick out what you want grow. You can follow the instructions exactly as the pack states but I find you can plant seeds 1/4 inch down. The only ones you don't want to bury are seeds that have instructions to press them on the surface or lightly cover.  I am planting lettuce, basil and foxglove.




I am mixing three packs of large sweet green leaf basil together and putting (yes) 10+ seeds in each cell.  Why? They will grow just fine and like water. If I keep the cells moist, the basil and lettuce will grow well. Once the plants are large enough, I divide them up. Lettuce and basil are easy to divide. You can gently break the clumps of starting soil apart and divide them 1 plant at a time if you want. Not all plants  divide that easily. If you enlarge the photo, you can see the cells are over planted with seeds. Remember nature doesn't drop seeds on inch apart.






Once the seeds are in on the soil, I use a popsicle stick to mix them down to about 1/4 of an inch and then press the soil down with my thumb. This ensures good soil to seed contact for germination.








Each group of 9 cells gets labelled with a stick. Next I planted foxglove. In my hand there is probably 500 seeds. They all wont germinate. But they will be planted heavily in the cells. I just break them into bunches when I transplant them into cups. I break them again when the get bigger. And then 1 more time before they go into the ground. Foxglove is lightly covered with soil. Just drop a little mix on them and press it down with your thumb.






Never water from the top. Never... no never. Don't do it. It is too labor intensive. It will wash mix and seeds out of the cell and it will cause damping off, a fungus disease. Water from the bottom. Fill the tray up nearly halfway with warm water. Make sure the tray is on a level surface. In about 2-3 hours your tray will  absorb the water. You are good to go on watering now for 7-10 days. When the cells look dry...fill from the bottom. Dump out excess water if you get carried away.





This is really easy. Give it a try. I do use a growing station. The light stay on 12 hours.
Here are some pictures of seeds I started about a month ago.