With spring just around the corner, it's time to get your garden growing! Unless you live in an area with year-round warm temperatures, you're going to want to start your garden seeds before it's warm enough for them to survive outside. We know that starting your garden from seeds and figuring out how and when to get seeds started can be daunting so we borrowed a gardening expert from Gertens Garden Center and Nursery, one of our local retail partners, to help you out with a how-to video!
What you'll need to get started:
- Small, sterile planting container (provides a clean, contained environment for seedlings)
- Seed starter mix (helps prevent "damping off" in seedlings)
- Heating mat (raises the temperature about 8-10 degrees)
- Plan light (keep 2-6 inches above your seedlings, prevents seedlings from stretching to reach the sun)
- Watering can with a fine stream or mister bottle (prevents seeds from getting displaced when watered)
- Plastic dome (optional, leave on until seedlings start to come up)
- Plant labels (so you know what's what!)
What can you plant:
- Salad crops
- Sprouts (make sure the package says "sprouting seeds")
- Start with high-quality seeds from your local lawn & garden store
- Use the information on the back of the seed package to determine when you should plant each crop. Seed packets should tell you how long it will take for a seed to sprout, and how long it will take for it to mature. You want to aim to be able to move your plant outside once it hits that "mature" period. Timing is important, if you start them too early, they'll be ready to go outside before the weather is right for them (seedlings like to to be 60 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer at all times). If you start them too late, you won't get to enjoy the fruits of your labor in time for summer!
- How do you know when your seedlings need to be re-planted with potting soil in a larger container? Once your seedlings start to get 3-5 sets of true leaves, look like they're getting a little pale and are getting bigger, you can take them out of the container you started them in. Gently take them apart, either in clumps or as individual plants and plant them in a slightly larger pot with potting soil which allows them to grab more nutrients and get strong enough to be planted in the outdoor elements later on.
- Harden off your seedlings before putting them outside. This takes about two weeks of getting them used to the wind and the sun and you need to make sure that it's consistently warm during the day and night (not below 60 degrees Fahrenheit). Start with a little bit of outdoor morning sun on the first day before bringing them back in. Each day, add a little additional time in the sun for about two weeks before re-planting your seedlings outdoors.
And now you're ready to put your green thumb to work! Do you have any plants that you start from seeds every year or any extra tips for us? And if you're in the Inver Grove Heights area, stop in to Gertens to have one of their experts help you find everything that you need to get started!