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Sowing Seeds on the First Day of Spring

Happy day after the first day of spring!

I love all the signs with my name on them during this time of year – Subaru has an annual “Love Spring Event,” a furniture store in Silverdale has “SPRING FLING” written in fancy letters, but my brother posted my favorite sign on his Facebook page:

Sustainable_Spring_Sign

To celebrate the changing of the seasons, I ate the last bit of my homemade pesto from last summer (it tasted like sunshine!), then I planted seeds.

The pesto recipe will come later, today I want to talk about seed sowing…

Some people skip the seeds and just buy plant starts, but after I saw two long rows of plants pop their heads up from a two dollar bag of seeds, I was hooked.

This year I did some seed swaps, where friends and I shared seeds since so many come in each package. I love trading!

DSC_0074

I learned from my plant guru brother that, while Jiffy peat pots and their plastic containers are nice, they aren’t necessary for growing plants from seed. I keep small containers, including the plastic six packs, from plants I’ve bought in the past and my boyfriend gave me a stack of his small containers. I’ve also read about people using toilet paper tubes and other household items – the container doesn’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts!

Everything I need for sowing seeds
Everything I need for sowing seeds

I will sow my carrots, lettuce, spinach and peas directly into the garden next week as they don’t mind colder weather, but squash, peppers, zucchini and other seeds that like warmer weather can get a head start by being started indoors. I’m also starting nasturtiums (did you know they’re edible?), parsley, eggplant and cucumbers indoors.

Here’s how I sow my seeds for edibles when I’m not putting them directly into the ground:

1. Pour potting soil into a large tub (I use Organic Gardener’s Gold that I bought from Poulsbo’s Valley Nursery).

2.  I mix in a little compost from my garden, but this isn’t necessary. I like to give my plant babies an extra boost. I used about 10 parts potting soil to 1 part compost this year. You can also build your own soil.

3. Scoop soil into containers until it’s about half an inch from the top.

4. Set the containers in a tray of some kind so you can move bunches of them easily.

5. Water the soil until damp all the way through but not soaking wet.

6. Poke a little hole in the middle of the soil in each container, about 1/2 inch deep.

Holes poked in the top of wet soil
Can you see the holes poked in the top of the wet soil?

7. Put 1-2 seeds in each hole.

8. Cover lightly with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of damp soil.

9. Mark the containers before moving on to the next kind of plant before you forget what is planted where! I’m lucky and have plant-lover parents, so I had some very old plastic tags around, but you can use old twisty ties or popsicle sticks.

10-11. When you’re finished, take the seeds inside and put them in the warmest, sunniest spot and cover with plastic. (When I come across large plastic bags used for packaging I keep them around for things like this).

Sustainable_Spring_Courtright6

Last year I put my plastic wrapped containers in sunny windowsills and within two weeks almost every single container had little green heads poking up. Unfortunately I damaged the wood in one windowsill, so this year I’m trying a new window…with tile flooring in front of it.

:)

There are about a zillion different techniques for planting seeds, with all kinds of expensive gadgets you can buy, but if you want to keep it simple, inexpensive and (almost) waste-free, try my method and let me know how it goes!

What did you do on your first day of spring? If you sow your own seeds, what techniques do you use?

love sprint

10 thoughts on “Sowing Seeds on the First Day of Spring

  1. Spring, this is YOUR season!

    For my first day of Spring I planted more lily bulbs, put together and set out a new bistro table with chairs and pulled more weeds. My carrots, lettuce and broccoli are in. Looking forward to a very Spring weekend and more yard work.

  2. Here are some of my early indoor planting tips:

    1) Compost or fertilized growing mixes will sometimes grow molds on them that will kill newly emerged seedlings. Seed starter mix does not include any fertilizers, so they do not. However seed starter is more expensive. If you will fill your starter pots with a growing mix, then dig a thimble-sized hole in the soil and fill it with seed starter mix, and then plant the seeds in it, you will avoid mold and the roots will penetrate into the growing medium anyway. You can also do this with flats of soil by digging furrows and filling them with seed starter mix.

    2) Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants need warm soil to germinate. Putting the planting tray on a plant heating mat will help them germinate quickly. Remove the heat as soon as the young plants establish their second leaves.

    3) Tomatoes have the ability to recover quickly from transplanting. Plant the seeds in undivided flats. Once the young plants have their second leaves, transplant the strongest ones into 5” peat pots or other pots to let them grow into larger (1’-2’ high) plants. Then in late April or early May at lower elevations in Western Washington, transplant them into your garden. Tomatoes dislike their leaves getting wet (they literally sunburn when wet) and dislike clear, cold skies directly above them at night. If you have a bed that is along a south-facing wall and under the eaves of your house, that is the best place to plant tomatoes. A second alternative is to create a clear plastic “roof” over the tomatoes with bent PVC pipe and heavy clear plastic. Here are links to some ideas: http://henbogle.com/homemade-pvc-hoophouse-construction/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aA6w9hFhA0

    4)When transplanting larger tomato starts into the garden, dig a deep hole and bury half of the stem. It will grow additional roots and will strengthen the plant.

    5) Onions may be planted in flats and then transplanted easily into the garden after a few weeks. The small plants are relatively tough and transplant well. You can start many in the flats and spread them out when you transplant.

    1. Thank you for the fantastic tips, Bill! You helped me decide to plant my tomatoes on the side of my house this year rather than in pots on the porch. I hope you’ll share photos of your garden with us this summer?

  3. Thanks for the great information, very inspiring! We are getting to plant our sees, my son is the main spring gardener around here and he likes to use egg cartons, he cuts them and just plants each individual sprout in either a larger container or directly into the ground. Also, the plastic containers from Costco that hold spinach and spring greens are awesome little greenhouses! We love your blog and read it every time you post something new. Thanks for bringing some Spring Green to Kitsap!

  4. Ya spring brings the best atmosphere for planting your seed.So you should waste time and start planting immediately.You can get some rich organic seeds during spring.Thank you for this post.

    1. Thank you Darrel! Yes, it’s time to start planting – I love seeing the little plants poking their heads up out of the dirt…

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