Thursday, April 16, 2009

DIY: Start Your Vegetable Seeds Indoors

Many vegetables and flowers such as tomatoes, peppers, mums, and some melons and cucumbers like to be started inside where it's nice and toasty. This is so the plants will get a jump start in places with shorter growing seasons, like Oregon and Utah, in turn allowing them to produce a bountiful harvest before the first killing frost of autumn. These little dudes are also too tender to be started outside before the last frost of spring, so we start them indoors.

This is how I started my seeds this year:

First, I got all my seeds (obvious). Then I figured out which seeds needed to be planted inside and when. For seeds that need to be started inside, the packet will probably say to start them 6-8 weeks before the last frost (4-6 for cukes and melons). In the Willamette Valley, the last frost is generally in mid to late May, so just to be safe, I start my seeds the second week of April or so. In Utah, I'd imagine the last frost of spring is probably a little later, check your local records to be sure.

Next, I gather my supplies. This year, I used Planter's Pride Fiber Pellets instead of peat pots or peat pellets. I like these because all you have to do is add water and the seeds. That's it. They are super clean and easy. In addition, they are made from coir instead of the traditional peat. I'm saving the peat bogs, people! One pellet at a time. Coir also holds more water than peat, making for less frequent watering. The mesh holding the fiber pellets together is also biodegradable. If you want to learn more about these little dudes, you can read about them here. In short, they are good for my plants, good for the environment and good for me.

Say hello to my little fiber pellet. It's like a dirt donut.

Just add water and they poof up, all ready to grow a baby plant! It's like magic. Or coir. Whichever.
Drop in two to three seeds per pellet.

I'm a pepper!

Next, I cover my seeds with a humidity dome. AKA: Clear plastic lid. The water from the pellets evaporates into the air, which is caught by the lid and then redeposited back onto the seedlings.

Observe the rain in the biodome:

Make sure the seeds are set in a constantly warm place. I set mine on top of my dryer. There are commercial seed warming mats available if you're interested, but I have never needed one.

Next, I made a little map to make sure I knew which seeds were where.
Now I sit back and wait until they sprout. While they are germinating (sprouting) don't put them under any direct light. They actually like the dark for sprouting themselves.

And that should get you (and me) off to a good start. In four to five days you'll start seeing some action! It's that easy!

Next Time: So my seeds sprouted. Now what?


Allie said...

Hey Abby,
I think you rock. Every time I read your blog, you climb higher on my scale of rockness. I'm totally going to get coir this year instead of peat. Thanks for the tips!

PS--I hope you got my book. I accidently sent it to myself first (put your label in the 'from' and wrote my address in the 'to'. That's what lack of sleep does to my brain!

lauren said...

thanks for posting about this. i really want to start a garden as soon as greg and i are a bit more settled, and i appreciate all of your tips and tricks. and you make it seem doable, so i think next year i'm going to give it a shot!

Adam and Tara said...

Such a cute idea. I've never considered planting my own garden but you make it look easy.... where did you get your container for the plants?

Abby said...

The container for the plants I got at a gardening store, but I have also seen them in the gardening section of Fred Meyer's. Fred Meyer's is actually where I got the coir pellets, as well. If you don't have Fred Meyer's or a gardening store, try Wal Mart, Smith's Marketplace, or Target.

Kimba said...

YOU'RE a dirty donut....

Missing you this weekend...

Mellanee said...

Seedee Sproutee Sproutertons

Jessica and Reecey said...

You are inspiring me to become a gardener. If only my cats didn't eat everything we try to grow...