Seed Starting & Planting
Timing your seed planting is the key to success. Plant too soon and you run the risk of a late frost damaging or killing your plants. Plant too late and you can end up with a smaller harvest due to a shorter growing season.
Naturally, different areas have a different "last frost free date" and that is what you have to go by. Here in the "banana belt" (southern Vancouver Island) we can often get going much earlier than places in the north or the prairies. When we lived in the interior of B.C. we usually waited until May 24th to do outside plantings. That is no longer the date we stick to here in Duncan. Each area is different and if in doubt I suggest you ask at the local garden shop or plant Nursery.
Start seeds inside or outside?
If you use your favourite web browser you can find charts to tell you how long it takes to sprout the various seeds and when to do the transplant seedlings you have started inside, out into the open garden.
When starting seeds inside the house there are a number of things you have to keep in mind.
* Seeds don't usually need light to germinate (but there are exeptions - primarily some flowers)
* Seeds have an optimum temperature they like for germination.
* After seeds have sprouted they need sunlight! Too little light and they will grow tall looking for the sun.
* Choose the right starting media & pot size. If the starter pot is too small and the type of plant grows quickly, you will need to do a re-potting before it is time to plant it out into the garden. Extra work that you can avoid!
* Your little plant pots must be kept moist but don't drown the seeds!
* Think about how many plants you are going to need before you start seeding. You will need perhaps 10 - 20% more than what you actually are going to use as some will not thrive or survive.
* Consider how much room you have to plant "stuff" out and then think about the cost of the finished item. For example, if you don't each much cabbage and you have limited garden space, do you really want to use up your space with something that you can buy at a low price in the store?
* Before you start, get your materials all figured out. What kind of tray you are going to use and how to keep it covered. Yes, I said covered! Your seedlings will do better in a covered container than just sitting open on a counter or window sill. A lot of baking goods come in a plastic tray with a clear plastic cover - ideal for starting seeds providing you are not doing a huge number. If you go to a garden centre you will find there are starter units available at a price.
* If you are going to want to start large quantities of seeds you may be interested in building your own plant trays and plant pots - and maybe even a seed germination box. The latter can be made any size you want and you can purchase a heater cable you bury in sand in the bottom of the box that is thermostatically controlled to keep a nice even temperature for your seeds. Before we downsized I used to grow a lot of seedlings and made trays out of strips of cedar cut to make trays that would fit in my starter box. If you do this, make sure you optimize your space by making the trays the right size to fit in the starter box and make the box deep enough to be able to put strips on the inside to put small "planks" on to provide support for a second layer. Any questions, drop me a note & I will try to answer your questions.
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Some time back I found a seed chart that I thought was good. I was going to post it here but this format does not accept PDF files and it is 14 pages long so if you would like a copy post a request in the comments section of my blog and I will e-mail it to you.
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What "ZONE" are you in?
It is necessary to know what zone you are in so you can correctly figure out what plants are hardy in your area.
The above websites are just a sample of what you can find if you use your browser to search and find what zone you are in. And if you use the last link, Veseys have a list of zones on the right side of the page. If you click on the zone you are in they give you a list of all the seeds etc. they can provide for use in your zone.
One type of plant that is extremely popular as a "start it yourself"
type of seedling is Tomatoes - partly due to the large variety of seeds available and the fact home grown tomatoes always seem to have more flavour than ones bought in the store. I won't go into any more info on this here as I already have a blog page on tomatoes - take a look at it!
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Plant Starter Pots
There are many websites showing how to make your own starter pots for next to nothing. Just "Google" newspaper plant pots and you will get lots of sites to visit.