Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tight-Arse Tuesday: Sowing Your Seed

If you're in the northern hemisphere, the weather out there on this February morning is probably not anything that makes you want to get out into the garden. Get started now, though, and you can save a LOT of money by starting your own seeds.

By the time the weather's nice enough to start planting outside, you've already missed the buss on a lot of delicious, healthy spring vegetables, and you've cut your tomato season short. Or you'll have to pay several dollars for each little baby plant, when you could've started even more plants for less than the cost of one.

So first find yourself some containers. Those little flats that you buy veggie transplants in work fine, but you can also use tin cans, yogurt cups, paper coffee cups, etc. Just punch a couple little holes in the bottom for drainage and they're good to go! Fill each one about 3/4 of the way (at least a few inches deep) with seed starting mix - note that this is NOT potting soil. Potting soil is too heavy for seeds. But don't worry, seed starter is not expensive.

Once you've got them all ready, make a little hole in each one (a few holes in each if you have a larger container like a butter tub) with a pencil, about as deep as it says to plant on the seed packet. Drop a couple of seeds in each hole, using tweezers for tiny seeds, and gently brush the soil over them. Mist liberally with water from a clean spray bottle; don't pour water in or you'll disturb the soil and move the seeds around. Label each container with masking tape and a Sharpie so you remember what's planted in each one.

Now you have to keep them warm. If it's cold where you are, you can cover each container with plastic wrap to make it a mini-greenhouse, just keep an eye on things to make sure it's not getting too hot inside. (If it is, you can lift a corner of the plastic for ventilation.) Another thing you can do is put your little pots on a cookie sheet and set that on top of a heating pad. Don't get it so hot that it bakes your plants, but this is a great way to keep your little seeds all snug and cozy.

Mist them with water every few days, or if your containers are shallow, pour a little water into the cookie sheet and let them wick it up from underneath.

In a week or so, you'll have small green babies crowning through the soil. Make sure they're in a place where they can get plenty of sunlight, or point a flourescent light at them for most of the day. You can switch on the flourescent light when you get up in the morning and shut it off after dinner in the evenings.

Let them keep growing this way for a few weeks, until it warms up outside and there's no more danger of frost. At that point you'll already have all your pretty little veggie starts and you won't have to go pay a fortune for them at the garden center. And delicious, homegrown veggies will only be a few weeks away!

No comments:

Post a Comment