I have been extremely anxious to write this article because it means I finally believe spring is here! And if you are into gardening and the entire experience it is time for you to stay home from garden centers and try growing your own vegetable seeds. One main perk to your own vegetable seed starting is you get exactly which plants you want and if you want to try something new it’s easier to find seeds for than entire plants sometimes.
How To Grow Vegetables From Seed
To actually get a seed to germinate is as simple as covering it in wet dirt and giving it time. Thanks to people doing this in greenhouses and in other facilities it has become easier to do and harder to mess up with certain added items to make the seeds germinate faster and develop more quickly. Most of the vegetable seeds such as tomatoes and peppers prefer warm soil and this will lead us to some ways to make germination more successful and far more rapid.
Vegetable Seed Starting Equipment
As I mentioned there are better ways than just putting a seed in dirt but if it is all you can do give it a shot and you may still be successful. There are a few items that will jumpstart vegetable seed germination to facilitate ideal conditions for your seeds making them come up faster and healthier. Basically having the right equipment will take out some variables that us average garden hobbyists might mess up.
Vegetable Seed Starting Heat Mat
This item will potentially be the biggest game changer in terms of rapid germination. Most vegetable sees prefer warm soil to help speed up germination. Lettuce, peas, and spinach are all examples of vegetables that prefer cooler soil to germinate but by in large sees want warm soil. A heat mat simple is placed under your seed starting tray (which will be will covered next) and will warm the soil encouraging your seed to germinate. For me it has caused tomato seeds to germinate in 4 days!
Vegetable Seed Starting Tray
There are a lot of seed starting try variations at this point in the business. Some trays have molded spots to add soil to and plant the seeds. There are also just regular flat trays that are designed to fit small pots on and add seeds to and is my preferred choice. There are also inserts that fit into flat trays if you prefer the smaller pods for seed starting. I’m also going to go over humidity domes along with the tray because the domes are made to cover the trays. A humidity dome is just a clear lid version of the tray and holds the moisture in. This process will help to keep you from drying out your seed pods or pots which is a killer for germinating seeds. It also traps the heat keeping it warm and moist inside. The thing to watch for with the tray and humidity dome in combination with a heat mat as well is mold. It can develop if not giving time to dry out to some degree. Either the soil or pots you use can develop a mold problem quickly so monitor it closely.
Vegetable Seed Starting Pots
Now we come to the other option besides pre-molded trays are pots. These come in a variety of materials depending on your preferences. Everything from cow manure to plastic to clay options are available. I personally chose a recycled paper type because they are biodegradable and I am able to plant them in the pot. If you choose to plant this type of pot remember to break up the root ball somehow otherwise the plant will become root bound regardless. They are also more affordable than plastic or clay pots and hold up to normal amounts of watering. The thing that attracts me to small pots such as these is the fact that you can put more soil in them which will retain moisture better leading to better plant development.
Best Seed Starting Soil
Next we come to the type of soil that is best for starting seeds. Seed starting mixes offer better aeration so that the seeds can easily push through the soil and will not hold too much water and rot the seed or cause mold. Some soils will come with plant food impregnated into it which is great so you do not have to feed them. Some soils are organic as well if you choose to go that route and use organic seeds as well. These soils are designed with the ratio of soil, perlite, peat moss to be ideal for starting your vegetable seeds.
Vegetable Seeds Online
So now that you have got all of your equipment figured out its time to figure out how to best locate the seeds you actually want. In this wonderful age of the internet buying sees online is a great option primarily because of the wider variety of options you can find. There are far more exotic and hard to find vegetable seeds online than available at your local garden retailer. This offers you a wide variety and exactly what you want. They are affordable and some seeds are offered in a survival type set designed for your bug out bag to be taken with you to your bug out location.
Tips For Seed Starting
Lastly we come to a few tips to make your vegetables come out healthy. First off to water your seedlings I recommend get a simple water or Gatorade bottle and drilling a small hole (5/32”) in the cap to provide a good amount of water without disrupting how the seed is settled. Secondly once the seedlings come up they will get very spindly and tall. Ways to get around this are putting a light source just above the seedlings so they do now have to expend energy growing upwards but can grow thicker. Another option which I use because I just use natural light is a small fan that I let blow on my seedlings to help strengthen them and allow them to grow thicker. It has proven to be an effective method. I chose a small fan because typical mid-west wind here will easily snap your seedlings. Also going back to equipment there are entire kits with heat mat, tray, humidity dome and seed tray all in one package which is economical and is what I used as well and have already reviewed it. Read here to look at it and see if it fits your needs too.
Hopefully this information will get you in the mood for spring and give you some ideas to finally start your own garden from seeds this year. Vegetable seed starting is easier than ever so take these ideas and look at some of the options. Also check out the guide to indoor herb gardening as well as it’s that time of year. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment any tips that work for you or any questions or updates on how your seedlings are going.