Starting your flowers and vegetable plants from seeds is an inexpensive way to have a wide variety of the plants you want. By following these simple ‘how to’ tips, you can have an abundance of flowers and vegetables growing in your garden this year, all started from inexpensive seeds.
The first thing to do after you have chosen the seeds that you want, is place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to plant them. This prevents the flower and vegetable seeds from sprouting, and you don’t want that to happen until after they have been planted.
24 hours before you are ready to plant the seeds, soak the seeds in a solution of weak tea. Take the seeds out of their packs and place the seeds in a piece of lightweight cloth (an old pair of knee high hose or pantyhose works perfect for this seed preparing task, and you will find many uses for old hose in your garden). Place each different variety of seed in a different cloth, tie the cloth up and soak the whole thing in the solution of weak, cooled tea. You can use instant tea or tea bags for this seed preparing task, as long the tea is weak and cool. After you have soaked the seeds, remove them from the weak tea solution (keep the weak tea solution, you will use it later) leaving them in the cloths, and place them back in the refrigerator.
Now is the time to prepare you planting containers. The planting containers can be anything from a store bought seed starter tray to styrofoam cups and plastic margarine tubs. If you use recycled container like a plastic margarine tub, clean it well in warm, soapy water and poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Fill the containers 3/4’s of the way full with your choice of any professional planting mix, which is readily available at any retailer that sells gardening supplies. Do not use potting soil to start your seeds in, the potting soil is too heavy for the tiny seeds to push their sprouts through.
After you have the planting mix in your containers, dampen the mix with water and poke holes in the planting mix with a pencil 1/4 inch deep and 2 inches apart.
Remove the seeds from your refrigerator and spread them out on a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture. Using a pair of tweezers, place one seed in each of the holes you made in the planting mix. Cover each of the seeds with planting mix and gently press down.
If you are planting a variety of flower or vegetable seeds, you will need some way to mark which containers have which type of flower or vegetable seeds. You can write on recycled containers with a magic marker, or use a popsicle stick with the name of the seeds written on it for each variety.
Place the leftover weak tea solution in a spray/misting bottle and mist the surface of the planting mix. Place all you containers on a tray and mist an old towel with the weak tea solution and place the dampened towel over the top of your seed containers.
Place the seed containers in a dark warm location in your house for the next 5 days. Each day, raise the towel and mist the top of the planting mix and the towel with water.
On the 6th day, remove the towel and place your seed containers in a southern or eastern window. Mist daily with water and let the seed containers remain there until the new flower and vegetable plants have sprouted 2 leaves, it will then be time to transplant your new flowers or vegetables to their permanent or semi-permanent home. A larger pot for semi-permanent, or if all danger of frost has past, transplant the new seedlings into your flower bed or vegetable garden. Use a spoon to take up the seedling from it’s original container, taking as much planting mix with each one as possible, so as to not disturb it’s roots.