Seed starting basics

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Growing seeds can be very rewarding and fun as well as as a delicious means of saving financially. So where can we get them and how can we get them to grow?

Where to get seeds?

You can order from reputable sellers on places like Etsy or Amazon. Be wary of scams selling fake seeds.

Grocery stores carry seeds as well as hardware stores and big box stores. Fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store have seeds you can harvest. You can also harvest seeds from your own plants if they produce any.

So now that you know how to get seeds lets talk about the nitty gritty of how exactly we can germinate them.

Step 1. Choose and Research

Choose and Research

Pick what you want to grow and research it. Most plants produce some type of seeds but how they grow is very different depending on the specific species and variety.

Step 2. Seed Preparation

Seed Preparation

Decide when you will plant your seeds because there may be other seed preparation procedures you must do in order to have a successful germination. Seeds may need outside factors to determine if they will sprout or not.

 Some important methods to note are:

•Stratification- simulating cold circumstances to help activate seeds

•Scarification- damaging the outer shell to allow the interior seed to more easily escape

•Pre-Soaking- softens the husks to allow the seed to grow

Not all seeds need these but there are many that will not sprout without one or more  of these done so it is best to research what you are trying to grow and create the appropriate circumstances. Some can be up to months in advance preparation so it is best to not wait until the last minute to research the plant or you may miss the planting window until next season.

Step 3. Where to Plant

Where to Plant

 After you have completed any necessary pre-germination procedures you can decide where you want to plant your seeds.

An outdoor pot, indoor pot, garden beds, seed tray or simply in the outdoor soil…wherever you decide to plant make sure there is enough room.

 For example carrots would not grow very well in a 3 or 4 inch pot. It is better to have a large pot or direct sew into the ground to get a full carrot crop. However if you were just growing some carrot microgreens a long shallow pot would be fine for your needs.

You can start seeds in a smaller container but do not wait to long to transplant it to another more permanent container or you can have a root bound seedling that will die off.

Step 4. Grow in What?

Grow in What?

 After deciding where you want to plant your seeds you can decide exactly what plant medium you want to grow them in.

You can start seeds in:

•Seed starting potting mix- this is usually a peat based mix that is very moisture retentive and dense great for fruits and vegetables.

•sphagnum moss- this is a very moisture retentive dried moss and great for houseplant seeds like antherium.

Regardless of what you are growing it is always recommended to use a sterilized potting medium for seeds. It should say on the label if this is the case. This is especially a concern for store bought potting mixes because if they are not sterilized already you can have your seeds subjected to molds, mildew, fungi, bacteria, and pest all leading to unhealthy plants.

Sphagnum moss is already cleaned but you can sterilize it by boiling if you plan to reuse it for seeds.

Step 5. Physically Planting Your Seeds

Physically Planting Your Seeds

You can read your seed packaging or your research should have told you how deep your seed needs to be planted. Some seeds such as lithops are simply sprinkled on top while others such as carrots need to be buried deeper. To deep or not deep enough your plant will likely not germinate.

Step 6. Cover your seeds

Cover your seeds

 It is recommended to cover your seeds for their protection and humidity. You can cover them with a humidity dome or some type of plastic. In some cases covering with soil is enough. In colder environments a thick covering of hay, straw, or grass clippings is recommended.

Because there are so many varieties available and different growing environments there is no one way fits all for planting seeds but researching your plant and following these steps can give you your best chance at growing healthy seedlings.

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