Starting From Seed




By Kyla Miller, R.H.N.;

Spring has sprung and along with it, a desire for fresh local produce. We are all grateful for the supermarket down the street during winter, but there is something so wonderful about a summer market busy with hard working local farmers who are ready to sell you their delicious produce. Even better than a market however, is your own home grown food. Have you considered putting in a garden this year or having potted plants on your balcony? If you are not sure where to begin, this blog will help start you on the right path. If you have had a garden before, perhaps this blog with provide you with a few useful tidbits.

 Where to Find Seeds

If you’ve chosen to do all of the work yourself, you will need to purchase the seeds you want to grow. You can definitely purchase seeds from any grocery store or outdoor garden center. There are also plenty of options for purchasing seeds online. However, if you can find a local market, it is a tremendous feeling to support “seed savers”. These are farmers who save all their own seeds from their own produce and then sell them the years following.  Another option is to save your own seeds.

Prepping Your Soil

Soil is a combination of disintegrated rock and humus (decomposed organic matter). It is considered to be alive because it is inhabited by many living organisms. Essentially, soil is just a holding matrix for minerals that plants draw from to grow. Every plant that we harvest, removes macro and trace minerals from our soil. In fact, many soils have been reduced to only 12-20 minerals. Once this occurs, they are gone until we replenish them. Fertilizers are often used to replenish the soil. However, most fertilizers only contain 3 components. They are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. We suggest using a product called OceanTrace. This is a super concentrated sea mineral solution that contains more than 90 trace elements in a perfect proportion as found in nature.  These elements are 100% bio-available to all plants, animals and humans. This solution provides essential nutrients from the deep ocean for healthy seed and plant growth and is foremost non-toxic. By ensuring that your plants are grown in organic, mineral-rich soil, free of pesticides and excess sodium chloride, the quality of your harvest will be improved significantly and your body will be receiving minerals not present in commercial produce. Also, healthy plants contain flavour that is vastly superior to the low-grade food made available commercially.

Sprouting

Sprouting seeds is not hard. However, you will need to pay close attention to the climate and conditions surrounding your seeds. Comparable to taking care of a house plant, your seeds will require attention and love. Each seed will have different requirements and will be noted on the seed package when you purchase it.

Sowing your seeds

If you plan on starting your seeds early indoors, you will need containers with provisions for drainage. We recommend using peat trays, but plastic pots and trays are also used. Fill your pots or trays to within ¼ inch of the rim. Moisten the soil by placing it in a pan of room temperature water until it is thoroughly wet. Allow the excess water to drain from the pots/trays, compress them lightly to pack the soil down and remove any air pockets. 

It is important to check if your seeds need any special treatment before sowing. Some may need soaking or a few hours/days in the freezer. As mentioned above, the seed packet will provide this information as well as other required details. 

Depending on the size of the seed you may have to create a seed trench or punch a row of small holes in the soil. The rows should be at least an inch apart. The planting depth is usually one or two times the diameter of the seed. Very fine seeds should not be covered at all, nor seeds that require light for germination. Carefully distribute your seeds onto the soil or into the small holes, being careful not to crowd them. This will ensure room for growth as well as good light and air circulation to the seedlings as they develop. It will also make it easier to transplant the new plants when the time comes.

Now you should create a miniature greenhouse environment for the pots or trays. This can be done by placing them inside a sealed plastic bag (using small stakes to hold the plastic from actually resting on the soil mix), or placing a sheet of glass over it. Doing this will most likely eliminate the need for water before the seeds germinate. However, make sure to keep an eye on it. Don’t let it dry out completely. Place your pot or tray  in an area where it will get good light but not direct sun, and stay as close to the desired temperature as possible.

Germination can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months, depending on what you are growing, so patience will have to be one of your virtues. Once the seeds have sprouted above the soil surface, remove the “green-housing” and move the pot or tray gradually into brighter light or sun. 

Surviving the seedling stage

At this stage, the seedlings have underdeveloped root systems, so watering is critical and should be checked daily. The potting soil must remain moist, but never wet or soggy, because this will prevent oxygen from reaching the roots and will drown the new plants. Watering at the base of the plant is best at this stage because spraying can dislodge the plants and water on the leaves may lead to a fungus attack. Temperatures should be kept at about 70-75 degrees.

Hardening the seedlings

Your plants will need to adjust to the outdoor world. The change in temperature, wind and light can be quite a shock to your seedlings. To begin the transition, move your pots or trays outdoors to a shaded, sheltered area. When the temperature drops at night, bring them back indoors. After doing this for 2-3 days, put them into an area where they will receive a half day of sun, again bringing them in at night if it is expected to get cold), and 2-3 days later let them have full sun, if they are a sun loving plant. After this hardening period they are ready to be planted into their permanent position in the garden. 


Having a Plan

Before transplanting your plants, you will want to plan out the design of your garden. Certain plants will need more sun, while others will require more shade. Let’s take for example, tomatoes, cucumber and greens. Tomatoes require a lot of sunlight, as do cucumbers. Greens on the other hand, prefer the shade. Tomatoes can grow very tall and cast a shadow in your garden. So, you would not want to plant your cucumbers in a position where the sun would not reach them due to the tomatoes overshadowing them. You could, however, plant the greens beside the tomatoes, in a position to which they would be in the shade for a better part of the day.

Transplanting Your Plants

Once your plant has four full leaves, it is ready to transplant. Use the handle of a spoon as your shovel to remove the seedlings from the pot or tray, and very gently separate them, being careful to do as little damage to the roots as possible. It is very important to always handle a seedling by the leaf and never by the stem. Even slight pressure can permanently damage the stem; whereas the plant will grow another leaf if it is damaged. It is normal for a certain amount of wilting to occur after transplanting, due to some root damage and general plant shock. The plants should recover quickly.

Soon, you will be harvesting the bounty of your love and careful attention. 

Your questions: Do you grow from seed? Do you have any other tidbits you can share? (post your comments below)

Sources:
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About the Author : Kyla Miller is the co-founder of guidinginstincts.com. She has overcome illness through dietary/lifestyle changes, and practicing a positive mindset daily. Kyla is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and is currently studying to become a Reiki Master.

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