As the cold gray winter days continue, I have added a little “sunshine” to my life by starting some seeds! While it is much too early to get plants started in the garden it is not too early to try sprouting some seeds indoors. Those little green sprouts provide a reminder that Spring will be here soon. Starting seeds indoors does require a little effort and attention, but does not have to be expensive.
What you will need to get started: There are many items that can be recycled into potting containers. Egg cartons, plastic produce containers and even toilet paper rolls and be used for sprouting seeds. You can also make small pots out of newspaper, wrapping it around the bottom of a can to mold the shape. These types of items can be put right into the ground when the time is right, which saves you from having to re-pot your seedlings.
Planting Basics - Water and Light: Seeds sprout best in a light weight soil so for best results utilize a blend of seed starting mix and potting soil. Seeds require water every day and sometimes even twice a day until they sprout. I use a water bottle with holes poked into the cap to create a fine sprinkle that won’t drown or disrupt the seeds. It is critical to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout but then be careful not to overwater as that can cause the seedlings to fail, a disappointing problem called “dampening off”.
Find a warm and sunny spot to encourage sprouting and consider a supplemental light source. Seattle does not have enough sunlight at this time of the year to get vegetable seeds to germinate consistently, so a grow light can ensure success. I keep my lights on the seedlings for about twelve hours per day. Heat mats can also encourage plant growth or you can set up your planting station near a heat source.
So shake off those winter blues and bring some light into your life! Vegetable gardening can feed your soul and your belly at the same time!