Sunday, February 14, 2021

Get the First of the Seeds Planted


It is now time to plant the first of your seeds...that is all...

Pepper Seedlings
Pepper seedlings growing.  They grow up so slow.

Uuuhhh What?  It's only February, it's winter, and it's still cold outside, in-fact it's snowing right now.  What do you mean it's time to start the first of the seeds?

Yes, you heard me correctly, it is NOW time to plant the first of your seeds!  You don't want to plant seeds outside just yet, we want the first of the seeds to be started in either a sunny window, a greenhouse, a sunroom, or a space with an LED grow light or two.  Really just anywhere that a plant can grow.  All you need for a seed to grow is:

-Seed (duh)

We also want to be selective over the seeds that you start this early in the year.  Don't just randomly choose a seed packet and plant it.  We only want to plant the seeds for plants that take forever to grow (I'm looking at your peppers).  The best way to figure out when seeds should be planted is to look at the back of the seed packets, they will tell you exactly when you should start them.

Spoiler Alert:  Peppers generally take the longest to grow, they are the main targets for starting right NOW!

Organize the rest of your seed packets based on those times as well as the space that you have available to start your seeds.  Basically, get your priorities in order!

Once you have your seeds organized, get those peppers started as soon as possible!  Pepper seeds will take about 2 weeks from planting until they sprout, then they grow extremely slow (just in case that isn't clear yet).

To plant your seeds, plastic pots that are about 3 in. x 3 in. are far superior to the 1 in. plastic pots that are commonly used for seed starting.  With the smaller pots, once the plant starts growing you need to transplant them to a bigger pot pretty fast so the plant can keep growing.  This increases your chances of damaging the plant and/or roots.  Do yourself a favor, skip that step, and save yourself some time by going straight to the 3 in. pots!  You can get a tray that holds 18 of these 3 in. pots so you can still have seedling trays, which make them very easy to move around.  Once you have your pots, fill them with soil*, leaving a little bit of room at the top (otherwise they’ll overflow when you water them).

Seed Tray Setup
The best seed starting tray setup:  Seed Tray, Seed Tray insert, and 3 x 3 pots.

Planting a seed is very simple but there are two very important things to keep in mind, don’t plant the seeds too deep and don’t overwater your seedlings.  You want the seeds to be just below the surface.  If you look at the height of your seed, it should not be planted deeper than that height.  It’s natural to try and will your plants to sprout and grow faster by watering them more.  That is not how this works and you will only hurt your plants by doing that and you might not get any plants at all.

Plant Your Seeds in 5 Easy Steps:

1) Take your index finger and make a small indent in the middle of the soil in the pot, going down only as deep as you want the seed to be planted (keep it shallow).

2) Drop a single seed into this indentation.  Seeds are extremely small and it's hard to imagine a single seed growing into a giant plant.  It’s natural to want to put a handful of seeds in each pot.  DO NOT do that, this will only cause more work for you once all of your seeds end up germinating.  One seed to one pot people.  You got this!!

3) After planting your seeds put your trays in a sunny window or wherever you are going to grow them.

4) Water your newly planted seeds so the soil is moist.  Using a spray bottle after first planting your seeds works out really well so you don’t jostle your seeds around a lot.  Spray the soil until moist and you are not going to water them again until the soil is dry to the touch (likely a day or two later).  Once the soil is dry to the touch, water them again and keep doing this.  By letting the soil get dry you are making sure that you are not overwatering your plants.

5) It is normal for the soil to take a day or two to dry out, DO NOT overwater** your seeds and have patience young grasshopper.  It will all be okay and everything will work out!

That’s all there is to starting your seeds!

Remember, this is supposed to be relaxing and fun, don't stress out about the finer details and just have fun.  Get some seeds, throw them in some dirt, water them, give them some sunlight, and watch them grow.  That is literally all this takes and anyone can do this...yes...even you can do this.  It doesn't matter how old or young you are or what your life story is.  Urban farming is for anyone and everyone regardless of your situation, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  You will learn as you go, if something gets messed up or if a plant dies, examine the situation and come up with a theory for what you think happened.  Try again and make adjustments based on that theory and you will learn if that theory was correct or not.  If not, come up with a new theory and try again.  Then try again...and again...and again...and again.  Never give up, remember...YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

Seeds can be planted whenever you want to plant them.  If you want to plant pepper seeds at the beginning of June, go for it and just do it.  You might not get any peppers but the plants will still grow and you will still learn and next year you will start them earlier so you get some actual peppers.  Learning is all part of the fun here, get creative, plant the seeds whenever you want, learn, experiment, collaborate, have fun, and just enjoy life!

Here’s my list of the seeds that I will be starting in February (literally today):

-Bee Balm

*You want a natural potting soil that doesn't have any chemicals added to it.  There are not a lot of options for this and I'm very suspicious of the companies that do tout themselves as providing an all natural potting soil as they generally don't provide any details of exactly what is in their potting soil.  Which is usually not a good thing, but there aren't a lot of options when it comes to this.  I'm currently experimenting with making my own potting soil, we'll see how that goes and I'll certainly keep you updated.

**Don't underwater them either by letting the soil be completely dry for several days.  Water the soil then let it get dry to the touch.  Water again and repeat while checking on the soil / plants at least once a day.

In the comments below:  What seeds are you starting?  Are you excited to start seeds?  Are you scared?  What questions do you have about seed starting?  What is your favorite animal?

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