Although the temperatures and snow on the ground don’t make us feel like spring is on it’s way, it is. Which means that it’s time to head into the potting shed or basement (as in my case) to set up the seed trays and start our summer harvest. Here’s some gardening tips for starting seeds indoors
Before you get all excited and start planting all your seeds, it’s best to find out the last frost date for your area. I’m in Canadian zone 6a and according to Vesey’s Seeds our last frost date is May 9th in this area. Check out their Canadian guide here. Then plan according to your seeds germination recommendations. Check the back of your seed package for sowing instructions. Here’s a quick reference guide courtesy of Organic Gardening:
- 12 to 14 weeks: onions*, leeks*, chives*, pansies*, impatiens, and coleus
- 8 to 12 weeks: peppers, lettuce*, cabbage-family crops*, petunias, snapdragons*, alyssum*, and other hardy annual flowers
- 6 to 8 weeks: eggplants, tomatoes
- 5 to 6 weeks: zinnias, cockscombs (Celosia spp.), marigolds, other tender annuals
- 2 to 4 weeks: cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, squash
Since according to my gathered information, I can go ahead and start anything in the 14 week or less categories. I’ll be starting my hyacinth beans, some cosmos and nasturtiums so that they are nice big plants before heading out to the garden.
To be honest, I’ve attempted to start seeds indoors a number of times without much success. So this year, I bit the bullet and bought a proper Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System a like this one.
First things first, be sure to use a proper seed starting soil mix like this one from Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix which contains a mix of sphagnum, peat moss and perlite for proper drainage. It’s designed to hold moisture and provide proper drainage and is bacteria free so wards off damp-off or any fungus that can occur.
For really stubborn seeds like nasturtiums which are particularly hard, take a pair of nail clippers and nick the edge. This method breaks a “path” for the seed to sprout through faster.