Once spring brings warmth, we're ready to get our gardens planted. But here's the hitch: do you want to grow from seed? Do you want to do transplants? Do you want to grow your own transplants?
There's much convenience when one buys transplants from their local nursery. Generally speaking, things offered for sale in the nursery will do at least okay in your area; but sometimes they offer things that are finicky, and thus it's in the gardener's best interest to educate themselves on what exactly it is they wish to grow, being not all tomates are alike.
With seeds, it's the same crap shoot; some varieties do much better in certain circumstances than other types, and knowing what should work well in your area is a bonus. But when starting transplants from seed in the comfort of your home, you're giving those plants a little enviromental push; they will germinate in roughly the same area they'll grow. No shock from say, a transplant grown in a commercial nursery in a coastal area, shipped via truck inland to a drier, hotter climate.
If you'd like to grow your own transplants, you'll need three basic things (in addition to water)
- Soil or growing medium
- Pot to hold soil or growing medium
The pots I got had no drainage holes,
so I used the back end of a nail (in conjunction with a hammer)
to pop out the areas marked for drainage.
Then came decision making time: choosing what to start as transplants. Some veggies have delicate roots and it's much better to sow them straight in the garden (such as corn and peas) because they don't do well with transplant-associated root shock.
Once that task was completed, I took a sharpie and wrote the plant types onto the pots. I prefer to mark the pot itself, that way if for some reason an identifying plant tag ends up misplaced, I'll still know what's growing.
Then it's soil time. The potting soil I chose has a high organic matter content, making it great for holding moisture. I like adding about 1/4 cup of water to the soil bag and mix it up, that way when I water the seeds after planting, they are less likely to be displaced by water/air bubbles. An old hippie taught me that.
Fill the pots, tamp down. Make holes and drop in your seed. It's okay to over-seed the pots since a) not all seeds are guaranteed a 100% germination rate AND b) we're going to thin them out to the strongest specimens.
After depositing the seed, I stacked them in my blue bowl (it's for gold panning, but conveniently sized for this endeavor) and watered.
Now, for watering, I chose to doctor the elixir of life a bit. Augmented it with the organic version of MiracleGro and a wee bit of SuperThrive.
The Viking told me about SuperThrive and I've been sold on it since. The main precaution I offer for those thinking of using it, is to make sure you use only a teeny, tiny bit. It's powerful stuff, and too much can burn the plant. I add about 1/3 - 1/2 a capful to my watering can. Why? It does glorious things for roots, and being that germination is all about getting that root started... well, seems like a good idea. I've never used it when starting seed, so this is an experiment. Hopefully it pans out.
Now the blue bowl is atop the fridge, where heat from the appliance helps warm the pots and encourage germination. Once that's done, I've got an old aquarium light that I'm going to use to enourage vegetation of the seedlings. It's a cool light, so heat won't be an issue. Just have to make sure it's close enough to the seedlings so they don't get supper leggy looking for brighter illumination.
And then, within a week or two...
The seedlings I'm starting are to go into the garden I'm building for my retired parents. As they both have some mobility issues, I'll get things started, and they can run the garden on cruise control when I'm done (mulch to suppress weeds, drip systems and timers are your friends, people!)
Here's to dirty hands and happy hearts!