Planting Time: Get Your Garden Started With Seeds

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Planting Time: Get Your Garden Started With Seeds

Garden catalogs have a lot to answer for. They arrive during the doldrums of January and offer glimpses of spring and summer gardens full of bright flowers and luscious vegetables. Unfortunately, when you look outside, it seems like gardening weather is still a long way away.

There is hope. You may not be able to hasten the arrival of warm weather, but you can at least get going on a summer flower or vegetable garden by starting the seeds for one. Not only will you save money (a packet of seeds is far less expensive than a flat of seedlings), but you’ll be able grow the exact plants you want, whether exotic perennials or your family’s favorite tomato variety, and fill your home with summery greens even when it’s cold outside.

When to plant outside? Check the ideal outdoor transplanting date for each plant, then count backward to determine how early to start the seeds. Cool-season edibles and other plants can go outside when the soil is considerably cooler than heat lovers can, but even so, most plants should not be set outside before the last expected frost. If you start your seedlings too early, you may find yourself with plants that are ready to go outside before the garden is ready for them.

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Comments (30)
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frenchdecor
Did someone try to seed in egg cartons?
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jays1975
I remember seeding in egg cartons in elementary school.
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Arielle and Archer
Thanks for the garden inspiration! I have already been pouring over the seed catalogs and adding to my already too long wish list. It makes me happy, this time of year, to organize, plan, and get ready for the upcoming gardening season. So much I want to grow, so little space...
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Laurie
Be sure to check out Baker Creek. http://www.rareseeds.com/ I get mine from them every year.
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charleee
Those clear plastic clam-shell containers that grocery stores put baked goods in work great for starting seeds. I did this with a bunch of kids once, we started pumpkins growing one summer. The top holds in just enough moisture and creates great humidity. We placed them in a sunny window and within a week the plants were starting to grow.
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jennie2e
Loved this article
   
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pamlazo
If you don't have enough space indoors, you could also try winter sowing your seeds. Here's a guide to winter sowing: http://www.getbusygardening.com/2010/02/winter-sowing-seeds.html.
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Pamela Bateman Garden Design
pamlazo~ great link to winter sowing seed.
Marianne ~ Nice article with great information. Thanks.
   
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Shawna
I've got AT LEAST three more months of snow and ice before I can even begin to think about gardening. I'll save this article for then.
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merrigay
Aaargh! I just threw away a lot of old metal spice containers from the 50' and 60's because I couldn't think of a thing to do with them. Never occurred to me to use them as plant starters.
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lindajkuhn
I use the container that rotisserie chickens come in; it already has little holes for ventilation.
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Cat Rowe
Wonderful gardening symposia at Great Dixter in the UK. Check out their website.
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happyasaclam
I've tried and tried to start my on seedlings but they usually die from damping off disease. So frustrating.
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bethiniowa
happyasaclam, have you tried using a fan to keep the air moving around your seedlings? Turn it on the lowest setting and direct it above the plants, but not right on the soil, as that can dry it out so quickly that your can't keep it watered enough. I've found the fan really helps prevent damping off.
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happyasaclam
I haven't tried a fan. Actually it hadn't occurred to me to try that. Thank you so much for the tip! I have new hope now and will give seeds a try again. I was just looking at the Burpee catalog yesterday, lol.
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jpete1941
There 's a device that enables taking gardening/seeding from seasonal to year 'round joyful
activity...grow fresh SAFE produce indoors and/or outdoors...protected from toxins, disease and GMO....useful on patios, balconies, inside homes...8 cu. ft, of growing space, but is quite mobile...fits thru 30" openings, 100% wheelchair access: EMG = Elevated Mini Garden.
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judyrud
Last year, with a new greenhouse and new raised beds, I started lots of seeds early. I used everything from the plastic clamshells to purchased peat pots and covered sets. The best, easiest, and cheapest, however, were the tiny paper cups designed for use in the bathroom. They aren't waxed, so can be planted in the soil and will compost, though I found mine just easily fell off when I replanted. I just poked a hole in the bottom of each with a little awl (does anyone still have icepicks?).
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ursulaberowne
It was twenty seven below here (northern Vermont) Friday when I left for work and only eight degrees today, but I have viola seeds just germinating and ready to go under lights. I can't plant them outside for months but that's how long they'll take to get to a good size anyway. For the cost of a packet of seed, and a little extra on my electric bill (I use low energy-use growing lights), I'll have a hundred viola plants for the frittillary butterflies, the edge of my garden paths, and my friends, and something green to fuss over inside while the garden is buried in snow. If you've never tried sowing your own seeds, try it, you will love it!
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Kevin Sharpe
seeded in egg cartons works well....built my wife a greenhouse too.she loves it....starting my big garden soon...yay potatoes.....
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edenchild

Timely article - I just started some basil and some coleus seeds today (in the Vancouver, BC area so it isn't too early here, 14C yesterday). Looking forward to having a plentiful supply of both. I tried starting from seed (basil) for the first time last year and couldn't believe how easy and inexpensive it was, not to mention the quality of the plants. I highly recommend it!

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Igarden@5b Rye

Nice to dream of spring, but they completely omitted the concept of winter sowing! Seeds started indoors are much more needy. Winter sowing takes the guess work out of seed starting, no damping off, just healthy sturdy plants ready to go in the garden come spring temps . I guess Pamlazo made the same point, snow, cold, freezing temps don't faze the winter sowing gardeners (:)

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dreamdoctor

Go to your hippie grocery (coop) and buy the seeds they sell for spices when possible such as coriander/cilantro/dill. Plant those - organic and incredibly inexpensive. Since our ground is too wet in the early spring I sow spinach and lettuce in the fall - if there is a decent amount of snow the spinach grows all winter - slowly. If I wait til the ground can be worked in spring to direct sow i get a bout a weeks worth of produce and then it goes to seed - which I let do on purpose as it plants its self in the perfect places - little edible surprises. Works particularly well for arugula and lettuce.


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marsia

Do to remodeling, I don't have a big enough spot indoors this year to raise seedlings. I live in zone 8b and am thinking of taking a couple of skylights from the remodel and putting them next to the house to get the passive solar gain from the house, then planting seedlings and putting them under the skylights. Do you think it will work if I cover the skylights at night with blankets?

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dreamdoctor

Cover them (the glass) with pieces of rigid insulation (ideally make a small insulated, cold frame that butts the house to gain heat loss from the house). I'm concerned the plants will fry on a sunny day if you don't have heat spring operated vents.

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Lu XueYan
;)
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rtrtrt

Ive always had trouble starting seeds. Thanks for the help. My go-to place is the sustainable seed co. I live pretty close to their retail shop but they have an online store with a seemingly endless number of veggies. http://sustainableseedco.com/Organic-Seed/ if anyone is doing any seed shopping.

   
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dreamdoctor

One of the biggest differences in starting seeds is to keep them warm at night - especially bottom heat. Most everything of mine starts pretty reliably - eggplant and peppers less so - I usually wait for bit and then if they are not coming up I put some seeds in a paper towel and wet it and cover it and put it on top of the refrigerator and out in the solar addition on sunny days and start the seeds out of soil and plant sprouts instead.

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Kristi Rivera
Interesting
   
Pond Roofing Company is a family-owned and operated business serving Northern Virginia residents for nearly 50... Read More