Vegetable planting is a simple process and whether one is planting for commercial or personal purposes it is extremely ecofriendly and manageable. With some effort, supplies and the right direction seedlings will begin to sprout.
- Containers such as pots, flats, egg cartons, yogurt cups. Make sure to disinfect and clean these with I part bleach and 10 parts water.
- Potting mix
- Seeds of any kind
- Labels/ markers
- Plastic bags/ covers to trap humidity and warmth during cold fronts
- Light source, consider installing a high density plant light or florescent if natural light is not available.
Potting mix should be the perfect balance of nutrients and a soil with a damp consistency. First, one must loosen and dampen the mix to spread the moisture evenly. The mix should feel like a well rung sponge, no dry lumps yet not a completely wet mixture. Do not add fertilizer until the speeding sprouts its first leaves, until then the mix should not contain fertilizer. Finally, add the potting mix to containers and fill them 2/3. Level off the mix in a table-top style and pat with hands.
Adding the Seeds:
Once the containers are ready and the potting mix is prepared a great garden is not far away. First, get to know the seeds and be sure to follow any preliminary instructions, like soaking or pre-chilling. If the seeds are smaller, they can be sprinkled on top of potting mix. Larger seeds should be planted individually. Try to use at least three seeds per container, because not all of the seeds will germinate. Afterwards, cover the seeds with a damp potting mix. Once again, make sure to know if there is anything a certain seed will need on top (the back of the pack will specify). Some seeds need more light, like lettuce, for germination so there should be less soil on top. Also, keep in mind the size of the seed when covering them. The smaller they are, the less they need to be covered. Lastly, sprinkle some additional water to the already damp mix, just to help germinate.
- Greenhouse Effect- When seeds need additional help to hold heat and moisture, place the whole container into the plastic bag or lay the plastic covering over it.
- Heat- Keep the container in a warm, draft-less spot that can be check daily. The ideal temperature of seed germination is between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If heat is an issue, heating maps can be purchased to help germinating seeds
- Light and Air- Seeds typically do not need light until they have emerged, however they do require air circulation under the plastic covering.
- Signs of Life- As the seedling begins emerging, remove the plastic and place the plant into direct light. After, place it in direct light.
- True Leaves- As the seedling grows, the first “true” leaves will form. Therefore, the seedling will start the process of photosynthesis. Now the seedling requires essential nutrients that can be found in most fertilizers. Add a fertilizer that is high in potassium and nitrogen.
- Potting Up- Seedlings should be in their original containers until they are moved to their permanent spots. However, if several sets of leaves form and the seedling is a few inches tall it can be moved to another pot.
- Thinning- If more than one seedling is growing in the same pot, separate the seedlings into individual pots or cut off all but the strongest seedling. Make sure to not pull out the extra seedlings because this can damage the roots.