How to start plants from seeds #Organic_Gardening
Starting seeds indoors will give you earlier vegetables and flowers, and your cultivar choices will be endless. The process of germination may seem complex, but the act of seed planting is reassuringly simple. Just take it step-by-step, and you’ll soon be presiding over a healthy crop of seedlings.
You can start seeds in almost any kind of container that will hold 1 to 2 inches of starting medium and won’t become easily waterlogged. Once seedlings form more roots and develop their true leaves, though, they grow best in containers that provide more space for root growth and have holes for drainage.
Seed-Starting and Potting Mixes
Seeds contain enough nutrients to nourish themselves through sprouting, so a seed-starting mix does not have to contain nutrients. It should be free of weed seeds and toxic substances, hold moisture well, and provide plenty of air spaces. Don’t use plain garden soil to start seedlings; it hardens into a dense mass that delicate young roots can’t penetrate.
Space large seeds at least 1 inch apart, planting 2 or 3 seeds in each pot (snip off the weaker seedlings later). Plant medium-sized seeds ½ to 1 inch apart, and tiny ones about ½ inch apart. If you’re sowing only a few seeds, use your fingertips or tweezers to place them precisely.
To plan the best time to start seedlings indoors in spring, you need to know the approximate date of the average last spring frost in your area.
- 12 to 14 weeks: onions*, leeks*, chives*, pansies*, impatiens, and coleus
- 8 to 12 weeks: peppers, lettuce*, cabbage-family crops*, petunias, snapdragons*, alyssum*, and other hardy annual flowers
- 6 to 8 weeks: eggplants, tomatoes
- 5 to 6 weeks: zinnias, cockscombs (Celosia spp.), marigolds, other tender annuals
- 2 to 4 weeks: cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, squash