Grow Some Seeds Indoor This Year
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Do you find yourself passing the racks of seeds at the hardware store and think how daunting seed starting must be? I used to be intimidated by seeds and always just bought plants later in the year when they showed up at the hardware store. However, seeds are not so complicated to start, and it can be a fun experience that saves you money.
The first step in overcoming seed overload is choosing what plants you’re interested in growing. Narrow down the list by things you actually have room to grow. If you’re growing vegetables, make sure you have 8+ hours of sun these plants require and that you have the time to manage them. If you are renting, make sure you have permission from your landlord before planting in the ground or stay on the safe side and plant in containers. No matter the space you’ve chosen for your plants, be sure you have enough room in the ground or container for the plants to grow to their full size. Otherwise, they will be crowded and compete for sun and nutrients.
Once you’ve chosen the seeds you want to grow, starting them is super easy using a moist potting mix. You can directly plant many seeds into the ground, but you will want to wait until later in the season for most of them. If you start them inside, you can get a jump start and have bigger, healthier plants once the ground warms. Whenever you are starting seeds indoors, it’s important that you do not use soil from your yard. That soil is too heavy and full of weed seeds and diseases; choose a potting media instead. The container that you use is not important, as long
as it has good drainage holes, so you can utilize empty yogurt containers, fruit clamshells, or anything plastic you no longer need. As long as it can drain, it will make a suitable container to sprout some seeds.
Now that you have a container and some moist potting media, plant your seeds. Typically, the package will give you great recommendations on how deep and how far apart to plant them. After you plant the seeds, cover the whole container with plastic; even a plastic grocery bag will do the trick. Your goal is to keep it as moist as possible so that the potting media and seeds don’t dry out. If it starts to get dry, mist the container with a spray bottle. Store your container away from sun until the young plants begin to emerge, and then you can uncover the container and move it to a sunny location.
When the plants have begun growing leaves, you can give them some fertilizer and lots of sun to keep them growing. Before moving them outdoors, you will want to harden them off by moving them outside to a protected area, slowly giving them more and more time outdoors each day. This helps the plants adjust to the harsher outdoor environment and toughen their cells before the final transition.
Whether you are starting vegetables or flowers from seeds, it can be a fun and rewarding experience. You can also save a lot of money over buying already grown
plants. Choose high-quality seeds from one of our local garden centers, and you will be off and growing in no time. If you have questions about seed starting, join me for a talk at the Ridgeview Library on February 21, 2019, at 6 p.m. or call the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Catawba County office at 828-465-8240.