Growing your own food for health, fun, and sustainability is a no-brainer. You can grow your own super-foods, tasty morsels, and more, and you don`t need a lot of space or know-how to do it. Now is the time to get started if you plan to grow your own food this year.
Seed starting is simply getting your seeds to sprout into tiny little plants. Many prefer to do this early in the spring, indoors, before the weather has cleared and outdoor gardening is possible.
First, find out when the last frost date for your location is by visiting the Farmer`s Almanac (where you can also find information about moon phase calculations for growth timing, which is optional).
Many say that beginning seeds indoors achieves better growth results. Generally, indoor seed starting should take place about three to four weeks before the last frost date. So if your area`s last frost date is predicted to be April 15, you should start your seeds in mid-late March. Traditionally, many people in the northern hemisphere begin their seeds late in March or the week before Easter.
The tools required are simple:
– containers for the seeds to start growing in
– good soil to fill the containers,
– something to poke holes in the soil,
– a little water and patience.
Most varieties of heirloom seeds will grow quickly and easily and are widely available from small markets, online, and through gardening centers.
Heirlooms tend to be hardier plants that have gained their name because they are long-popular seed varieties with a rich history.
For containers, you can either purchase them from a garden store or make your own. A piece of 1-1/2″ pipe, a dowel, or something round and at least an inch and a half in diameter can be used in conjunction with damp newspaper. Wrap the paper around the object to make several layers (3-4 layers thick) in a cup-like shape. Let dry and fill with dirt. These are temporary, but work well and are completely biodegradable. Eggshells, old plastic containers, and more can all be used to make planters too.
For poking holes in the soil to put in seeds, anything that is about the right size will work: a screwdriver, pencil, etc. The seed packet will tell you how deep for each type to go. For small-seed plants (tomatoes, lettuce) 3-4 seeds per starter cup is best. For larger seeds, one or two is enough. When the seeds sprout, you will “thin” the crops by cutting out those that aren`t as healthy as their companions in each cup. This ensures that you don`t waste a cup on a dead seed and lets you select the strongest for growth. Once you have all the seeds planted, they can be kept anywhere that is warm. Watering them every few days with a light sprinkle or through the bottom of a tray (depending on your setup) will keep them moist and growing. After the sprouts poke through the soil and begin showing leaves, they`ll need sunlight for a few hours a day.
When you`re nearing the final frost date, or once you`re past it, you should harden the new plants by putting them outside for a few hours a day for 4-5 days. Then transplant them into your garden and tend them there.
Seed starting is easy, fun, and gives you and your family something to do on those cold pre-spring days when you`re just itching to get outside and do something, but the weather isn`t cooperating.
Check the Pumpkin Moon website for all your Heirloom seeds!