Organic Vegetable Gardening in An Urban Setting

The 3 Steps to Starting Seed Indoors

  There are many reasons why you would want to start your seed indoors. There are more varieties of seed available than there are in your local plant store or garden center. You also have more control over when your vegetable seedlings are ready for transplant to your garden, window box, or patio container. The fact that seed is cheaper, or free if you save it from year to year doesn't hurt either. With the short growing season in some parts of Canada growing your seedlings for transplant outside is pretty much a necessity.

 The first step is to get your containers and soil together. You can use anything you want providing you can put holes in the bottom for drainage and watering. I would use the compressed fiber pellets instead of the compressed peat ones however, as they are more ecologically sound. Recycled paper coffee cups are great as you can put drainage holes into them. They are water tight. Most importantly you can remove them without damaging your transplant's root system when the time comes to move them to their final planting spot. Fill your container to within 2-3 cm. of the top and plant your seed. Put 3 or 4 seeds per container and weed out the weaker plants as they germinate and get started. Water them with a household spray bottle and place the containers somewhere warm and dark. Keep them out of direct sunlight till they sprout and do not let them dry out.

 The second step occurs after your seed germinates. Once this happens place your containers into direct light. They need at least 12 hours per day and 14 would be better. This may mean that you need supplemental lighting. Water your seed from the bottom of the container not from the top. This means placing your container into a shallow container of water for a few minutes or so whenever they dry out. Be sure to allow the containers to drain out after watering. Watering through the bottom of your containers will help your seedlings root system to develop quicker and stronger as well as promote a stronger plant and help control soil born fungus and disease.

 Finally after your seedlings grow their first set of true leaves, the first set are called embryonic, or false leaves; you can start to feed with a half strength liquid fertilizer once a week. Your plants should be at least 8-10 cm. tall and have 2-3 sets of true leaves before you consider transplanting to a final home outside after the last frost date for your area.

 Seedlings to start indoors.

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