Whether you till by the acre or tend a window box, starting your own vegetables, herbs and flowers from seed is rewarding in many ways. First, you can tap into an endless variety of plants rarely available in garden centers. It also puts you in control of what you want to grow, and when. Plus, you'll save money: A packet of 300 lettuce seeds costs the same as a single head of romaine.
In the spirit of keeping it simple, experts share their tried-and-true seed sowing tips for beginners and green thumbs alike.Got milk (cartons)?
Use commercial cell-packs or collect your own yogurt cups, cottage cheese tubs and plastic salad bar trays. Containers should be 2 to 3 inches deep with drainage holes. Tip from Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden Seeds: "I like to recycle 1/2-gallon cardboard milk cartons. Cut them in half vertically and fill each side with a good quality seed-starting mix that's been pre-moistened to resemble a wrung-out sponge." Tip from Ed Hume: "Fill your pot or flat up to the rim so the air flows across the soil." Hume says too much freeboard creates an area of stagnant air which can lead to disease problems.A pinch to grow an inch
Lightly broadcast seeds or sprinkle them into holes or furrows. To avoid over-sowing, here's a tip from Doc and Katy Abraham (The Green Thumb): "You don't want your tiny patch of seeds to become a weed unto itself. Empty the seed packet into your hand. Then pinch a few seeds with your fingers." Tip from Marion Owen, master gardener and PlanTea, Inc. founder: "To sow tiny, hard to manage seeds, reach for a No. 2 pencil. Touch the damp soil with the pencil tip, then dip it in a handful of seeds to pick up one, or a dozen, seeds. With a twist of your wrist, just wipe the seeds onto the soil."The great cover up
Refer to the seed packet for depth and spacing recommendations. Tip from Ed Hume: "Some seeds shouldn't be covered with any soil. After all, when plants go to seed at the end of the season, who covers the seeds? Yet they germinate!" To cover seeds evenly here's another tip from Marion Owen: Fill a Kraft parmesan cheese container with dry seed-starting mix and shake it over your newly sown seeds. Mist soil with water and press down gently. Label each variety and place containers in a warm place where you can keep a eye on them. Cover with plastic or glass to reduce moisture loss. Remove covers as soon as the seeds germinate.Now that your seeds are planted, the next step is to keep them healthy. By providing the right amount of light, moisture, air circulation, fertilizer and temperature, soon you'll be growing like the pros. For more gardening tips, unusual recipes, Marion's weekly photo and more, please go to the PlanTea, Inc. home page directory.
After eight years working at sea as an able-bodied seaman and merchant marine officer, Marion found a home ashore in Kodiak, Alaska. Switching her focus to the land, Marion became a master [organic] gardener. Now she has 25 raised beds filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs--her teaching garden. In addition to hands-on garden experience, Marion co-authored Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul.
An entertaining speaker, Marion conducts a variety of seminars. In her articles and on her plantea.com website, Marion shares organic gardening tips, unusual recipes, photography how-to's and more. Her easy-to-read site is well-illustrated with many of her images. Marion also developed and patented PlanTea, the organic fertilizer in a tea bag that is brewed like regular tea to make a nutritious liquid concentrate.
Marion enjoys sea kayaking, photography, pulling weeds, scuba diving with her husband Marty, reading and making fruit wines. Bottom's up!