There are two ways to start your garden, transplanting or by seed. For a majority of my gardening, I plant transplants (4″ tall plants) that I purchase from a garden center. That way I know what I am planting is in season (since they only sell what is meant to be planted at that time) and a healthy plant. But transplants are expensive, they usually run about $4-5 per plant! Doesn’t sound too bad, but when you’re buying enough to fill 4 raised beds, that’s a lot!
The alternative, if you want to garden and not break the bank, is to start from seed. This is a MUCH cheaper option and actually gives you more variety on what to plant. A seed packet will contain 20-30 seeds and cost only $3-$5. It is more work though, but trust me, you can do this!
Choose Your Seeds
The seeds that you plant will all depend on the season. Do a little research on the front end so you know what seeds you will be looking for. You can find seeds at any garden store, they usually have big wall showcases of all your options. The back of the seed packets will have directions and tips on timing, so you can use this to confirm you are buying what is in season. This will also help you determine if you will be sowing your seeds outside or starting them inside.
Select Your Container
If you’ll be starting them inside, you’ll need a container to put them in. You can use peat pots, popup pellets (my preference), or homemade options such as egg shells. I like to buy these Greenhouse Kits, which has everything you need (minus the seeds) to get started indoors with step by step directions!
Sow Your Seeds
If you’re using the popup pellets, you’ll need to completely soak the tray in water and let the pellets expand. Once they have expanded, plant 1-3 seeds to each cell/pot/pellet. Pay attention to the planting depths on the seed packets. Seeds that are planted too shallow will dry out and those plants too deep won’t sprout.
Store Unused Seeds
Keep any seeds that you don’t use in the package they came in and store in a cool, dry environment. You can store them in the refrigerator if you’d like, but make sure they won’t be contaminated by food by placing them in an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag.
You’ll need a lot of sunlight to start from seed, 12-16 hours a day. The ideal scenario is to have a direct light on your seedlings. I like to do things as easy as possible so I just put my Greenhouse Kit in my windowsill and call it good. Hasn’t failed me yet! If you are using a direct light, make sure to give your plants time away from the light. If you keep the light on them 24/7, they will actually grow slower since they don’t have to work as hard and grow as big to get access to the light.
Your seedlings should stay moist, like a damp sponge, but not be dripping wet. Make sure they don’t dry out!
Slowly transition your seedlings outside by placing them outside in a shaded area during the day for a week prior to planting them in the ground. Make sure to bring them inside at night or during rain or heavy winds. This will help them to harden and ultimately grow into stronger plants!
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the transplanting phase. Go ahead and plant your seedlings into nutrient dense soil, either straight into your garden, raised bed or large container. Don’t forget to keep taking care of them as they grow! 🙂