Merry Meet All,
I have some tips for you eager gardeners out there. I care about you. I care about your seeds. I want you to have a bountiful harvest in the fall. So I am posting this to save you from grief and to lose sleep and money over your investment of seeds. Growing plants from seed IS expensive. So read on to learn some tips I have gleaned from my own experiences of growing seeds.
Choose a good potting soil. It may be worth spending the extra money because good quality potting soil means growing happy, healthy plants.
Sterilize all of your containers. This means the small starter pots, milk cartons, cloches, seed trays and other containers. You have to kill the potential parasites and insects that lurk in the containers. Let them soak in bleach and water then let them air dry. That way, you don’t have to buy more containers. Reuse the containers you have and keep them clean. Store them somewhere in your garden shed or closet so they are available for later use. That can save you a lot of money.
Buy good quality seeds. I have placed several organic mugwort seeds in wet Kleenex in a plastic bag and out of all the seeds, only two have sprouted. Be careful who you purchase seeds from. Buy seeds from a trustworthy company. You get a lot of seeds in one packet and it makes sense to invest in good seeds, which means healthier plants. Purchase seeds that still have vigour in them.
Use popsicle sticks to label all of your plants. I bought a package of kids’ popsicle sticks for two dollars. I owned a black permanent marker and neatly wrote the names of the plants on the popsicle sticks. This has saved me a huge headache because I now know what I am growing and where I planted it. They do not get lost in the garden or the seed tray and the ink does not run off in the rain. You can mark each stick with a pentacle, a triquetrs, or the triple moon if you wish.
Stock up on small plant pots- plastic or clay, and keep them handy and clean. Sometimes, a seedling grows so fast you have to put in a slightly larger plant pot to give the roots room. Make sure every plant pot has a drain hole.
When you put a tiny seedling in the small plant pot, do not drown the seedling in soil. Give it room to move and breathe. You should be able to see the seedling. I know plants can find their way to the surface but trust me, I like it when I can see it growing. I have killed seedlings by putting too much soil over their heads.
Put seedlings in soil that is meant for them. Match the needs of the plant to the soil. I ran out of organic potting mix and was forced to use cactus potting mix for my seedlings. I just bought yet another bag of potting mix and transplanted a few holy basil or tulsi seedlings into larger pots to allow the roots to breathe. I can now be sure they will grow stronger.
This one may be a surprise, but hesitate when giving good quality plant pots away. I wish I had reconsidered when I gave my good plant pots away. I am sure the receiver appreciated my kindness, but when I needed a good plant pot, I was mercifully given small plastic plant pots to use for my many seedlings this spring. So just make more room for them in your storage shed and leave them there.
We have had heavy rainfall here. My garden suffered the rain. The rain washes the soil away. I added a new bag yesterday before the rain got heavy. Also, my planter had no drainage hole. I had just gently transplanted the radishes from the soil into a planter with no drainage hole. As a result, the radishes almost drowned. I had had enough. I stabbed the bottom of the planter with a screwdriver. Immediately, the water drained from the planter and I was thus able to save my radishes. I felt much better, knowing I can now leave my planter and it can drain properly. So do not hesitate to help your plants grow in any way you can. It costs to buy the planter, soil, and seeds. But you do not have to let a rain flood ruin all your efforts.
To help some seeds grow, you can soak them in warm water overnight or for a few hours. This coaxes the seed into germination. I am soaking rhubarb seeds in warm water and one of them is already sprouting. I am glad because I am trying to cover the back corner and fill it up with plants. Rhubarb can grow in shade. I have a shade garden. I can also eat what I harvest next year. Rhubarb is slow to get going. I also soaked sweet pea seeds in warm water. This softened the hard brown shell. The sweet peas will have lovely violet flowers.
To give your seedlings an advantage over slugs and disease in the garden, place a cloche over them. You can make your own cloche from a plastic apple cider jug. Rinse out the empty plastic clear jug and cut out the top and bottom of it. You can also sterilize and reuse this cloche. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy glass cloches.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Good luck with growing your seeds.
May the Goddess and God bless you with a beautiful garden this year.