Tuesday, 29 March 2016

How to Start your own Seeds Indoors

How to Start your own Seeds Indoors
(using Peat Pellets)

This is my third year now starting seeds.  I'm not an expert by any means, but most of my seeds sprout and last long enough to bear some fruit, so somehow I've got enough of an idea to make do.  I've kept it simple, more of a how I start seeds now - which is way more streamlined and less messy than used to be!

First, here are four things to keep in mind when trying to grow plants:  

1. Water
Without water, the seeds won't germinate.  Too much water, and they will rot.  Different plants require different watering techniques, but a good rule of thumb is to water from below (let them soak up water from their roots), and let the soil become reasonably dry before watering again (note:  not parched).

2. Sunlight
Once your seeds sprout, they will require sunlight.  I use one simple grow light, with just one bulb and a reflector.  (I hope to expand my set up sometime in the future!).  Here is the model I use.  I currently have it hanging in the open cabinet above my fridge.  I also have tons of plants on my fridge as well, and regularly rotate them so that they all benefit from being directly under the light.  If you have large, south facing windows, you can more than likely get away with not using a grow light.  

3.  Temperature
Plans need warmth to grow!  This element is often overlooked.  My first year of seed starting, I used my basement.  The plants grew, but slowly.  I got way better results when I moved my set up upstairs the next year (also, more natural light!).  And even better results when I used the top of my fridge (which lets off some additional heat).  

4. Aeration and Drainage
I put these together, because both problems are solved by the same solution:  the container and soil you use!  If the water can't drain out of the container (or your soil mix) your seeds/plants will become waterlogged and diseased and/or rot.  You can have a pot that drains well, but aeration is important as well.  Think: when planting in the ground, if you plant in dense, clay like soil, your seeds will die or be weak.  The more organisms in your soil, the more aerated it will be.  I'm very much in favour of planting directly in the ground, both in order to improve your soil, and to reap the benefits of happy plants.  But when seed starting indoors, I use peat pellets (found here).  I've got very good results using these little guys.  For this demo, I'll be using the peat pellets.  

How to Start your Seeds Indoors

1.  Soak your peat pellets
These little guys require more water than you'd think!  Plan ahead a bit and give them a good hour or so to soak up enough water.  It'll be easier (and better for your seeds!)  if they are thoroughly soaked.  This means no hard disks, which you will easily feel as they begin to soak the water.  Check back occasionally, and add more water if they've absorbed it all.

Here they are completely dry:

I used several old mushroom containers from the grocery store, and added the water and pellets.

And finally ready to go!  

2. Grab your seeds!
I had all ready planted most of my seeds by the time I decided to do this post, but I picked up a pack of heirloom tomatoes from the Saskatoon Seed Library (more on seed libraries soon!) at a gardeners event I attended last Sunday.  

3.  Pull away the fabric, and plant your seeds

The fabric is pretty tightly over the soil, and I found it helpful to pull the fabric away.  This made it easier to push the seed down into the soil, and to cover it back up.  

Here's my daughter helping me out.  I'm pretty sure that one pellet has about 8 seeds planted in there ;)

Now place your new little indoor garden in a warm place filled with sunlight (or a grow light!)!

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