If you want to customize your garden and save money at the same time, this is an easy go to guide to get started on your victory garden part two.
After the summer of 2020, many realized that it’s not cheap to plant a garden. Victory gardens were all the rage and rushing to the local lawn and garden store to buy vegetable plants was chaotic, disappointing, and oftentimes stressful.
We all have our favorite varieties of tomato, squash, and cucumbers plants. We were raised on jet stars, better boy, or beefsteak and we want what we want. However, last year's mad rush to the local farm stores may have done us in. Sometimes they were sold out which was always frustrating. Let's not forget the cost. Individual plants were three dollars or more per plant. Between supply and demand and cost, this year, you may consider germinating your own seeds indoors.
How do you start vegetable seeds indoors?
To start seeds indoors you’ll need quality seeds, the better quality the more likely they are to germinate or sprout. Some of the seeding companies to consider include Burpee at burpee.com, a company that’s been in the seed market since 1881, True Leaf Market at trueleafmarket.com a company that has a rewards program, Hudson Valley Seed company at hudsonvalleyseed.com that's known for their non-GMO, heirloom, and open-pollinated garden seeds, and Michigan Bulb Company at michiganbulb.com that’s very helpful for beginners.
Make sure to use a potting soil as opposed to garden soil. Potting mixes like a seed starting mix will provide a good balance for holding moisture in while allowing water to drain. Seed starting mixes give your seeds the best chance of germinating and growing into healthy seedlings. These mixes are finer and lighter than regular potting soils making it easier to root.
It's recommended to buy sterilized seed starting mix. You’ll see the word ‘sterilized’ on the package. This means that the manufacturer has heated the soil past the point of allowing any bacteria or harmful pathogens to survive. Seedlings are very delicate and need all the assurances they can get.
Using regular garden soil isn’t recommended. It doesn’t drain as well giving seed mixes the edge when planting indoors.
Seed mixes don’t contain fertilizer either. It’s actually not necessary for the germinating process. The seeds have enough nutrients to get them going. Once they begin sprouting and you can see the little green leaves, then it's time to transplant to fertilized soil for continued growth. Just as your body needs nutrients, so do seeds. In order for seeds to reach their full potential, they need good soil, light, moisture, and warmth.
You’ll need containers. Think about space in your house. If there’s not much space, you may consider using egg cartons. Paper egg cartons would be the best choice for transplanting. If you’re able to cut around each single egg holder, this carton is biodegradable and can go straight into your garden.
Be sure and punch holes in the bottom of your containers so water can drain. Then, simply place the egg carton on top of a tray so seeds can absorb the extra moisture.
If you're going to use Styrofoam egg cartons, it will be necessary to take the transplants out of the carton and place them directly into the soil. You don’t want to put Styrofoam into the garden soil because it doesn’t break-down like the paper cartons. You’ll need to punch holes for draining too.
If you don’t eat eggs, try other small plastic containers such as yogurt or jello containers. As long as you punch holes at the bottom of each container for drainage purposes, you’ll be on your way to germinating.
Your seedlings need plenty of warmth and light to grow and flourish.
How do you plant and care for your indoor seeds?
One of the keys to getting the seeds to sprout is to follow the directions on the seed packets. It’s a delicate balance between having enough soil to cover the seed and having too much soil over the seed preventing growth.
For instance, if you’re using smaller seeds they need only be covered by a thin layer of soil while larger seeds may need to go an inch deep. The standard rule of thumb is to go two to three times as deep as the seed is wide. Seeds need light to germinate.
Seeds need light and they need warmth. After planting your seeds, look for a warm, dry place for them to grow. You could invest in glow lights. This may give your seeds a better chance of sprouting. However, if you don’t want the extra cost, the seedlings need about 6 - 8 hours of direct sunlight so find that sunny spot in your home.
Nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms will benefit from a heat mat. Simply lay the mat under the trays, plug it in, and it will speed up the germination process.
If you’re planting small seeds, you may want to plant four or five in each container. Not all seeds will germinate. If you’re planting larger seeds, two or three will do.
Can all vegetable seeds be started indoors?
The answer is almost all seeds can start indoors. If you’re thinking ahead about garden space, it’s a good time to do so. Most seeds that start indoors are typically long season crops. Long growing season refers to the length of the growing season the plant takes to grow. Some may be grown all year long. It’s usually determined by region.
Typical long growing season refers to tomato plants, eggplant, okra, broccoli, squash, onions, and kale. By starting these plants indoors, you’ll be ready to transplant when the time is right. Depending on where you live, some plants such as peppers need soil temperatures to reach 75 to 80 degrees. If you wait too late to plant, you might not have enough time to experience a harvest. Seeds that will do better planting directly into the garden include peas, beans, radishes, and corn. An fact, all root vegetables prefer direct sowing.
When should you start vegetable seeds indoors?
As a general rule, vegetables should be sown indoors six to eight weeks before the last scheduled light freeze. For western Kentucky, the last scheduled freeze is April 14.
Now is the time to buy your seeds and get them sown. To see when the last scheduled frost date is for your area, go to the following link from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
By growing seeds indoors, you get a jump-start on the season, the pleasure of watching the seeds sprout, less cost, and buyers choice from a variety of plants that may be unavailable at the local lawn and garden stores. We’re approaching our second COVID-19 summer. As many Americans begin to plan victory gardens part two, consider starting it from seeds.