Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Starting Seeds

It's an exciting day when we start our seeds.  
Since we are having such a warm year, we are working outside.
We gathered:
 Seed Starter
any brand will work
we buy ours in the fall and store it in the garage until we are ready to plant
 Seed Starting Tray System
we buy ours at Lowe's
Popsicle Sticks

When I told the kids that we would plant seeds today they were so excited.
They ran to the basement and brought up the trays and little pots.
They went to the garage and grabbed the seed starter.
Seeds were carefully sorted and brought outside along with a few other supplies.
I got a phone call before I headed outside to help and they paced waiting for me to get off the phone.
They were ready to plant!

We use a seed starting set to start our seeds.
  For about $10.00 you get three sets.
This is obviously an old tray.
You can use these guys over and over again
  Each set contains a black base tray,

...a 72 cell insert which needs to be cut apart...

...and a clear plastic dome.
The clear dome keeps moisture locked in while the seeds are germinating.  
I love this set up.  
I do not like the discs that puff up into a sponge after you soak it in water.  
I much prefer this system. 

You will also need some seed starter. 
You can buy a bag from the store or make your own.  
I used to make my own, but we have just as much success with the store bought starter mix.  
If you want a formula for your own starter mix I would suggest mixing:
  •  2 parts top soil
  • 2 parts compost
  • 1 part sand
  • 1 part peat moss 
  • 1 or 2 parts perlite.  
You can experiment and change the formula as you see fit. 

We pour a pile of the starter mix into a tray so we can fill the cell pods easily.

The beauty of seed starter is that it is light and fluffy.
When you are filling your cell, do not pack the starter mix in.
Just drop it in and level it off.

Once you have a full tray, you are ready to start planting seeds. 

My daughter is a whiz when it comes to tiny delicate plants and seeds.
She has such a light touch.
I love watching her do her thing.
Her tools of choice are her fingers and a pencil.
I use a pair of tweezers to pick up tiny little seeds.
She is using the eraser to make holes in the starting mix.  
Each seed has it's own directions for sowing.

Starting a seed is called sowing. 

Here she is starting okra seeds.
Okra needs a half inch of dirt over it to get started, so she pokes 1/2 inch deep holes in each cell.

In goes a seed.

Then she covers the hole up with her cute little finger.

We have found the easiest way to water the seeds is to pull a 9 cell pod out of the tray.  
We pour warm water into the tray so the cells can soak up as much water as they need. 

We have used all sorts of markers over the years, but pencil is the best way to label the markers.
Markers are the worst as they can fade or the moisture can make the ink run.
If the markers are too long for the lid to close, just break off a bit of the popsicle stick before you insert it into the dirt.
You want the lid to fit correctly.   

Finally, add the clear plastic dome.
After a few hours, you should begin to notice moisture gathering on the plastic lid.
This is a very good sign.

We use florescent lights to help the germination process along.
Germination is beginning to sprout or grow.
When we first started experimenting with starting our own seeds we just stuck the trays on a window sill. 
The windowsill method works, but we do not have enough windows to start all our seeds now.
Don't feel you need a bunch of expensive equipment to try starting seeds.  
A seed starting tray set, starter mix and some seeds will get you started.

After a few days, you will see something like the overexposed little arch in the middle of the picture. 

A few days later you should see something like this.
It's so exciting to see the seeds growing into tiny little plants.
After a majority of the seeds have germinated...or sprouted....then you can remove the clear plastic lid.
Keep the tender little shoots watered.
Too much water will cause the roots to rot.
If the leaves begin turning yellow that is an indication that they are getting too much water.

Just keep an eye on your seeds as they start to grow and make adjustments as necessary.
Starting your own seeds is incredibly rewarding, very cost effective and a great project for kids.
We start a lot of our flowers from seeds as well.


1 comment:

  1. I love your Easter grass, it always looks so great!