In the Garden – Starting Your Own Seeds

Learn how to easily start your own seeds and insure they get off to a good start. 

About this time, every year, my heart starts to tire of the wintery weather I cherish so much (I doubt there are many who appreciate snow as much as I do).  It’s still a little early for starting seeds, at least here in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8a.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which many gardeners determine which plants are likely to thrive in a specific geographic location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures, divided into 10-degree F zones giving the average annual extreme minimum temperature based on recorded spanning from 1976-2005.

Click on the map below to find your zone. You can even look at a map of your state.

USDAA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Since January, our mailbox has been filling up with a delightful assortment of seed catalogs.  They are always so much fun to look through. My person favorite is the one from Baker Creek Seeds; it is so gorgeous, it’s more like a coffee table book.  

Here is a list of other seed catalogs, if you are interested, from one of our previous blog posts: Ordering Seed Catalogs.

If by chance you too are ready for spring, over the next few weeks, we will be giving you some tips to get your 2019 garden off to a great start!  

And, we have some exciting freebie that we will share with you at the end of this post!!

This week – Starting Seeds.

When I say starting, I mean starting indoors.

It’s still a bit too early, in much of the country (even if you could break the frozen tundra with your garden spade), to begin planting outdoors.  

Starting seeds indoors is simple and you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or even a greenhouse.

There are many ways to start your seeds: special seedling trays, dixie cups, solo cups, egg shells, newspaper pots… so many different ways.

I like starting my seeds in empty eggshells & egg cartons, using the empty shells as sort of a pot. The eggshells can be planted along with the mature seedling and will break down providing much-needed nutrients to your plant.

To start seeds in eggshells you will need:

  • An egg carton
  • 12 eggshell halves
  • Potting soil
  • And a sharp object to poke holes
  • Seeds!

The first thing I do is pull out my “Seed Binder” – yes, seed binder. I find this helps me keep my seeds better organized.  The inserts are actually made to hold baseball cards! Folded over, the seed packets fit nicely in the pockets.

Everyone organizes their seeds differently and you will find what works out best for you.

Next, make sure your eggshells are clean and dry.  Microwaving them for a minute or two will get rid of any bad pathogens. Just don’t burn them – it smells horrid!

Cut off the lid of the egg carton and set it aside.  You can use it later to start additional seedlings or add stability to the bottom carton.

Take a sharp object, like a nail or toothpick, and poke a hole in each section and in the bottom of each egg to help with water drainage.

Place eggshells back in the carton and fill each eggshell with soil.

Make a slight indentation in the soil of each egg, lay a couple of seeds in the divot you created and cover lightly with soil.

Water your eggshells well, making sure the soil is damp.

Cover with plastic.  A couple of years ago, I bought some clear bread bags; they aren’t really long enough for the bread I bake, but they are perfect for this!  The bag helps retain both moisture and warmth, creating a mini greenhouse.

Place the egg carton in a warm, sunny windowsill.  You can see in the picture above that condensation is already forming.  That’s a good sign!

The seed packet should tell you how long it will take for those seeds to germinate.  It’s usually anywhere from 7-21 days.  So, sit back, and wait.

Don’t forget to lightly water your seedlings about every 2 days or sooner if you see them drying out.  I like using a small spray bottle.  Don’t drown them, just mist.

Once your seedlings emerge from the soil, they will need light.  Many people place their seeds in a very sunny window.

Usually, a south-facing window will receive the most light. Unfortunately, here in the Pacific Northwest, we need to supplement with grow lights.  We will talk about that next time.

While you’re waiting for your seedlings to emerge, you should start thinking about a couple of things:

Re-potting:  When a seed first emerges from the soil, it has a set of two round leaves. These leaves are called cotyledons, which are part of the seed and act as it’s food source. As the seedling grows, it will form two more leaves that look more like what the plant’s true leaves look like.  When this happens, the plant begins photosynthesizing, receiving energy through that process. You may need to repot your seedlings into a larger container before the weather permits transplanting them outside so they can continue to grow well.

Transplanting outdoors: After the threat of frost has passed, you can remove the seedling and shell from the carton (or from its pot if you have repotted it) and plant in your garden.

We will be going into more depth about these topics in the weeks to come – so, come back and visit us.

Before we go, Mr. Misty and I would like to offer you a page from our Garden Journal. The “Seedlings Started” page is our gift to help you get started on your gardening journey!!

If you’d like more information on our Garden Journal or how to purchase one, click the button below.

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