Gardening is a great way to spend your time. It can give you ingredients for your kitchen, it brings your living space to life and it is a method of self-care. Starting plants from seeds can be easy – sometimes they grow without you wanting them and sometimes it’s challenging – nothing grows at all.
Many people are going back to the basics during the worldwide pandemic lockdowns. There are rumours about shops selling out of seeds. People are preparing home-gardens to avoid purchasing produce at grocery stores… and to give them an isolation activity!
Here are some tips for success to help you start growing this spring:
1. Follow the directions on the package.
This is tip number one because of its importance. A seed packet will most often tell you how deep to plant them, what kind of climate and soil is needed, watering and sunlight needs, plant spacing details and most notably the plant’s name (a great place to start). If you get your seeds straight from a farmer, neighbour, mother-in-law, etc. or your own existing plants then all you need to do is a quick google search for the specific seed instructions. If something goes wrong with your seeds, a first tell-tale sign of the issue is that you didn’t follow these crucial first instructions. Looking for suggestions for what to plant? Try some herbs! These are my favourite.
2. Don’t start too soon.
Seeds need warmth to germinate, so if you start planting when there’s a blast of snow in late April the seeds can freeze or rot after a few mornings of the frosty weather. The optimal time to plant the seeds is most likely on the packet, but some plants only require a few days to start sprouting. You want to extend your gardening season, not end it before it can properly begin.
3. Use seed-starter products.
Seed-starter products can be found at garden centres, at home stores and even at various grocery stores in their seasonal layout areas. Why not use a product created to help you with planting seeds? These items are affordable and will aid in the success-rate of your planting.
- Fertil Pots – biodegradable pots that can be planted right into the dirt
- Heat Mat – keeps seeds at an optimal temperature even in cold, drafty homes
- Cell Flats – great for when growing many plants from seeds
- Seed-starting / Germination Potting Soil – provides nutrients, pH balanced and good drainage
- Self-watering Mini Greenhouse – helps to maintain humidity before sprouting
- Seed Pellets – makes growing from seeds easy, clean and convenient
4. Use wide-flat areas for germination.
Don’t plant too deep. Again, follow the instructions for your specific seed type. If a seed is too deep it will have to push further through in order to sprout. If it’s not strong enough it may just die without surfacing, or it can become too damp as the water lasts the longest in the bottom of the container/in the lower layers of the soil.
5. Pre-soak your seeds.
This can reduce your germination time – a big plus especially if you want or need your plants quicker. Place your seeds into a small bowl with just enough warm water to cover the seeds.
- For thin-skinned seeds: soak for 2-6 hours.
- For thick-skinned or shelled seeds: soak for 8-12 hours.
Never soak your seeds for more than 24 hours. Plant them once they have finished their soaking period.
6. Ensure there is enough drainage.
As mentioned before, seeds will rot if they are too wet. A rotting seed will not grow and produce a healthy plant. Water only a little daily, then once sprouted follow the directions (this seems to be a theme, eh?).
7. Label your seeds.
This is highly important if you are growing more than one seed type or are growing them in an outdoor garden. Without knowing what seed is which, you might be providing the incorrect care to your plants. In a garden bed, you may forget where your seeds are and would not know where to check or water.
You can find some cute labeling ideas on my Pinterest board.
8. Monitor the seeds’ environment.
Seeds will need to be checked frequently to ensure the conditions in their surroundings are going to help them grow. You want to adjust the environment as necessary to provide the ideal temperature, sunlight and moisture. If your seeds are outside, you want to look for signs of pests. Squirrels and chipmunks are known for digging up seeds and bulbs. Although they can be cute, a plant is cuter in my books.
9. Start seeds indoors.
The easiest way to control the environment is to grow your seeds indoors. You don’t have to bear the weather, and if you’re keeping the plants inside you can almost start growing them anytime.
10. Be patient.
There’s nothing worse than waking up abruptly as your sister pulls a nice warm blanket off you to say you need to go get the mail. Allow your seeds to take their time growing. Avoid digging up seeds to “check on them” at all costs. It will disrupt the seeds and make it difficult for them to get comfortable enough again to grow. If it’s been double the projected time for a seed to sprout, then check on it. There may have been an issue. Otherwise, just remember it will be worth the wait!
What do you plan on growing from seeds this summer? I’ve bought seeds for lavender, sunflowers, carrots, dill and cilantro so far!
Don’t forget to tag @wellgrownhome on Instagram to share your planting successes!