Are you considering growing your flowers and vegetables by seed this year? If you are, here is a list of what supplies are needed to start your seeds, in order to grow plants that are strong and healthy.
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I personally plant most of my seeds in the greenhouse, rather than planting them directly in the garden. This is mostly because the weather can be so unpredictable this time of year, and seeds are so delicate and can be damaged very easily.
It’s important to get the right supplies when sowing your seeds, so that you have just the right environment to grow healthy seedlings, strong enough to transplant to the garden when ready.
Choosing the Right Container to Start Your Seeds
There are many options when it comes to choosing the right container for your seeds. You can start them in anything that measures 2-3 inches deep, holds soil and has drainage holes. Choose from plastic pots, cell packs, peat pots, plastic flats, yogurt cups, plastic cups, egg cartons or even shells. It’s crucial to have holes in the bottom of the container, so the plant’s roots will have space to grow, and so any water can drain out. Otherwise, the water will sit in the container, and the plant will rot.
I get the best results with cell packs for most of my seeds. The 72-cell flats are my favorite, because I never have to re-pot seedlings when it’s time to transplant them in the garden. When planting sweet peas, pumpkins or vines, I use 4-inch pots. Root trainers are great for sweet peas, but I have seen a rolled up newspaper tube work just as well. With so many choices out there, it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on containers.
If you decide to reuse pots or containers, make use you wash them with a 1 part bleach / 9 parts water solution to kill any diseases or pathogens.
Drainage Trays and Plastic Covering
You will need a drainage tray to set the containers in. When the seeds are first planted, it is important to let the plants soak up water through the bottom holes in their pots, so there is less chance of over watering.
A plastic dome will provide the humidity needed to encourage germination. I recommend using clear acrylic lids that will fit snug over the seed trays and flats or pots.
You can buy the seed flat, drainage tray and plastic dome separately, but all three components can be found as a kit as well
Bottom Heat for Seed Germination
Your seeds need to be kept warm and moist, in order for rapid germination to take place. A heat mat will help with this, but if you are growing seeds in your home, rather than a greenhouse, the top of a radiator or your refrigerator will work as well.
Seed Starting Potting Soil Mixes
Start your seeds off with a high quality seed starting mix, containing the right balance of nutrients, and the proper pH balance. Look for soil that is free of toxic substances, and avoid anything that contains a synthetic fertilizer or bark, which can burn the young plants. Find a seed starting potting mix that holds moisture properly.
Seeds Need Light to Grow Healthy
Seedlings need adequate light to grow healthy and strong, with around 14-16 hours of illumination. Without enough sunlight, plants tend to be weak and spindly. With that said, I have never used heat lamps or shop lights in my greenhouse, and my flowers have always thrived. Heat lamps are recommended, especially when you are growing plants in your home or basement. They provide both light and heat to encourage healthy, strong plants and help to speed up the growth.
Make sure to stick labels in the tray or pot with the name of the seed variety, and the date you planted them. I use craft sticks or craft sticks to label my plants many times because they are so low in cost. However, if you are going to use labels outdoors, I would not recommend the craft sticks.
Let me know if you have any questions or ideas about the supplies needed for seed starting. As always, it’s important for me to remind you that I am not a Master Gardener or a professional gardener. These are only suggestions based on what has worked for me.