Seed Starting

This past weekend I finally started my seeds indoors for the summer garden.  I’m about a month late, but I’ll still be able to transplant some seedlings near the end of May.

I have been saving up yogurt containers to plant my seedlings in.  I bought seed trays from Lowes for $1.50 a piece to hold my containers and I’m using Miracle Grow potting mix to fill the containers.  I also have one Jiffy 72 pellet set that I am using for bedding plants (impatiens and coleus).  I bought 1/2 of my seeds at Lowes and the other 1/2 I ordered online at Evergreen Seeds.  Evergreen Seeds specializes in Oriental/Asian herbs, fruits, and veggies.  To round it all off, I have a 4 foot long heat mat that I bought on e-Bay for $32 and 2 borrowed 4-ft long shop lamps that hold 2 flourescent tubes each for a light source. 

After last year’s horrible seed starting venture, I have found the mats to be a necessary expense.  In year’s past, I have never been able to start seeds without a mat.  The mat keeps the soil in the containers consistently between the 75 and 85 degrees needed for germination.  Without it, my results were always spotty and mold/mildew killed most my plants from the cold and wet conditions.

We drafted all sorts of wacky plans to build a structure that would suspend the lights over the seed trays in a single and double stack formation.  We even went so far as to buy $60 worth of PVC pipe and fittings, which we returned after a visit to Costco.  There in Costco, they were selling a 5 wire shelving rack unit for $80.  The shelves are 4.5 feet wide and are adjustable.  We could have several rows of plants growing at different heights if we wanted to and the shelves could be repurposed in the future in my hubby’s dream workshop or garage.

With that said, we drilled drainage holes in all the yogurt cups and filled them to the brim with potting soil.  We thoroughly watered the cups and the pellets in their respective trays, then drained the trays of excess water after 15 minutes or so. 

To plant the seeds I sprinkled some onto a white paper plate.  I then moistened the tip of a chopstick and dabbed at 2 or 3 seeds to stick them to the end of the chopstick.  I then deposited the seeds into the potting mix.  For the superfine seeds, like mint, I used a toothpick to plant the seeds with. 

The paper plate was very handy to use as a funnel to pour the excess seeds back into the seed packets.

For my yogurt cup tray, I wrapped the top tightly with 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  For the pellet tray, I just put the lid on it.  Once some seeds sprout, I will vent the trays until all the seeds have sprouted.  At that point, I will remove the covers entirely and turn on the flourescent lights.  I labeled the outside of the trays to keep track of what I planted.  I will be making some individual plant markers this weekend for each cup.

Here’s what I planted:

6 Thai Holy Basil
6 Thai Chili
3 Purple Eggplant
3 Thai Green Eggplant
3 Siam Queen Basil
2 Oregano
2 Thyme
4 Peppermint
4 Mint
36 Impatiens
36 Coleus

Once the seedlings are a couple weeks old, I will move them to the upper rack under the second light setup, sans heat mat.  I will then start another batch of bedding plants with the heat mat. We should have a constant flow of seedlings being grown and transplanted from now until the fall when I grow Pansies and Mums in September.

Have you ever started seeds before?  Share in the comments any tips and tricks you have for growing platns indoors.

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