We’ve spent most of the wet winter months dreaming and planning our food garden, and finally spring is here! The return of the sunshine and the longer days means it’s time to start planting our food garden for this year. It’s still too cold here to begin planting spring/summer veggies outside, but we get a head start on the season by starting plants from seed, inside.
Starting plants from seeds is not as hard as you might think. Over the years I’ve found that the plants we’ve grown from seed have done much better and produced much more than those we bought as seedlings, so it’s worth the effort. It’s also a very economical way to grow lots of food in your back yard!
Where to get your seeds…
I buy most of our seeds from Eden Seeds and some from Diggers. Occasionally we will pick up a packet of seeds from our local nursery but in general I have much more success with the open pollinated, non-hybrid, old fashioned varieties that Eden and Diggers sell and being able to order online is great.
What to plant them in…
In the past I have used the toilet paper roll method for planting our seeds which has worked well and is super easy. I’ve also tried various methods of making newspaper pots, but this year I followed this easy tutorial video from No Ordinary Homestead to make folded newspaper pots…
Once I got the hang of folding the pots it was quick and easy. They seem a bit flimsy when you fold the flaps in, but once you fill them with dirt they hold up really well.
I save the large plastic trays that our bulk mince meat comes in as they are the perfect size to hold 12 of the folded pots making them easy to transport (the newspaper will become flimsy when wet), and catching any excess water.
The best thing about using toilet rolls or newspaper is when it comes time to put your seedlings in the ground you can pop them in, pot and all. The newspaper rots away quickly once in the ground and it means less ‘transplant shock’ when you are not ripping the plants out of pots to plant.
I use a commercial seed raising mix to plant our seeds in. Nothing fancy, or super expensive and a big bag lasts us a few seasons if we store it in a dark dry spot.
How to plant them…
The planting is the fun part and something the kids can all help with, even Noey.
Before we start planting we choose which seeds we’ll plant, and I write on the newspaper pots the name of the plant.
We use a dessert spoon to spoon seed raising mix into each pot, filling them almost to the top and tamping it down a little till it is firm but not too tightly packed. Then we use an old pencil to make a hole in the centre of the pot and we drop the seed carefully into the hole and cover it over gently.
Then it is just a matter of watering them till they are just damp. We use an old drink bottle to dribble water onto our seed pots. I’ve been meaning to make one of these nifty watering bottles, but just haven’t managed it yet!
Where to put them…
You need to find a warm, sunny spot for your seeds, preferably inside if you are still getting super freezing nights and the odd cold day like we are! Most seeds need certain temperature to germinate so by starting them somewhere warm you trick them into germinating sooner, and growing a little before it is actually warm enough for them to grow outside, which extends your growing season a little, and if you are lucky you’ll be eating zucchinis by Christmas!
Before we ripped off the back of our house I have a huge kitchen window with a wide window sill that was the perfect place for starting seeds. It was warm, sunny and right under my nose so I always remembered to water the seeds. But that is gone now so I’m hoping that popping the seeds in front of our new big glass back doors will be a go-er. Unfortunately because we have a big back veranda this spot doesn’t get as much light as I’d like, so on sunny days I’m putting the seedlings outside in a sheltered but sunny spot on the deck. It’s also not as warm out there as in the rest of the house (since it still has no ceiling in some places!), especially at night, so I suspect my seeds might be slower to germinate… but I am crossing my fingers that they’ll still be ok.
Looking after your seeds…
Now that you have your seeds planted, and in a warm sunny spot, all you need to do is keep them moist. That is moist, not wet. If you see water pooling under the pots in the container you’ve been a little heavy handed. If the newspaper pots are completely dry and crispy, you’re not watering enough.
Now just sit back and wait for the sprouts to appear!
What we planted…
This is just out first round of seeds. We’ll plant more in a week or two, and we’ll also plant some seeds directly into the ground when the weather is warmer. But this time around we planted the following…
Zucchini – Black Beauty
Tomato – Tommy Toe, Cherry Roma, and Mortgage
Cucumber – Munchless
Water Melon – Shining Light
Cantelope/Rock Melon – Farm Woman
Are you planting a food garden?
What is your method of planting seeds and what are your favorite things to grow from seed?
Stay tuned for more ‘Kid Friendly Food Gardening’ posts. I’ll let you know how our seeds do as well as more adventures in our garden. Please let me know if there is something specific about gardening that you’d like me to blog about. I am no expert, but we have lots of fun mucking around in the garden and love to share our triumphs, and failures!