Starting Plants from Seed – Kid Friendly Food Gardening.

September 10, 2012

starting plants from seed
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.

folded newspaper pots

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!

starting plants from seed

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!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

leah September 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I am unsure what has come over me but since the terrariums have ignited my interest, I am actually invested in our veggie garden this season. We have planted cucumber, celery, leak, shallots, tomatoes and carrots in the little bed opposite the back door, where the ballerina apples are. Then we decided we are renovating our “back bed” that had strawberries once, making it bigger and transforming a compost bin into a strawberry barrel. Since we have no concrete plans for the back bed, I will run this post past the head gardener and we might buy some online seeds and make newspaper pots too! I just recycled the seed pots we got with the terrarium plants, dumb hey? LOL

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leah September 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

oops, leak is actually spelt leek LOL And I forgot to say we just planted the seeds straight into the ground. I think the kids would prefer this way though, bit more to it with filling the pots, and then getting to plant the seedlings.

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katef September 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Straight into the ground is fine if you don’t live in ‘still get frosts till November-ville’ like we do! Most plants prefer going straight into the ground but we’d never get tomatoes or watermelon etc if we had to wait till it was warm enough to plant them out!

I expect photos of your garden and if you can grow leeks I’ll swap you some for something… so far leeks and I have not been friends!

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Kathy September 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

We have just started some seedlings in egg cartons. Some have come up really quickly, but the others I fear are drowned by some over zealous little gardeners.
I shall plant some more seeds soon and this time I’m going to write on the carton what they are! :)

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katef September 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

We have that same problem with a certain small child here too!

And I learned the hard way why you should always label your seed pots. I was so sure what had come up was a zucchini so planted it with the other zucchinis, turned out it was a pumpkin which went nuts and crowded out all the zucs killing most of them! Oops!

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Jode September 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I love this post Kate….i really enjoy teaching the toddler twosome the wonders of vegie gardening. We usually just sow into recycled punnets but i love your paper pots. We have been trialling which ones work better straight into the ground too.
Just planted out a great crop of corn the girls and i had been tending in the greenhouse for a few weeks…was looking great…and then the wallaby dropped by for an early breakfast apparently…ah well!

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katef September 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Oh no!

We have problems with things eating our seedlings too. Mostly rats and mice and bugs these days but it was hares and rabbits before we built the fence around the veggie garden!

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Lisa @ Off the Couch Kids September 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

Love the idea of making folded newspaper pots!

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tahlia @the parenting files September 11, 2012 at 10:27 am

I should have come to you for tips. I just planted some lettuce and asparagus. But in a big pot not little pots like these. Now to go by more seeds and do it properly :) x

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Trish September 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Thanks so much for this post – it made for such a fun day for me and my kidlets today! We’re all so proud of the little newspaper pots we made and are eagerly awaiting the seedlings to appear. I really enjoy your blog :)

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Linda September 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

We planted pumpkin seeds from a pumpkin we had just eaten in an old meat tray. Just for fun! Nothing happened for so long that we thought that adventure hadn’t worked. Just as we were about to empty it all out and chuck it all away, we noticed green shoots and now we have little pumpkin seedlings, which the kids think are fabulous. Now we need to decide where to put soon to be large pumpkin plants in our very small veggie garden!

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Cath September 15, 2012 at 11:48 am

Folding merrily… will keep you posted!

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yogamama March 19, 2013 at 6:09 am

I use the cardboard egg cartons, they biodegrade super fast, and put them in a recycled plastic container with a lid, like my spinach comes in. I leave the lid on loosely & it makes a mini greenhouse. I have to be extra careful to not add too much water but that initial water usually lasts until they sprout.
I like the idea of the cardboard rolls since they’d be so easy to label but would they take too long to decompose?

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JDaniel4's Mom May 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

What a great way to reuse newspaper! I love the plants you made! We have just planted some flower seeds and a crossing our fingers that they will come up.

Thank you for sharing this post on the Dig Into Gardening Link Up. I will be sharing this post on Pinterest.

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Kim Rehn September 20, 2013 at 1:00 am

Do you just put the newspaper pots in the ground? Or do you remove the newspaper first? I am REALLY new to this stuff!

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