The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11

I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
Ecclesiastes 2:5













Sprouting Seeds!

My Seed Sprouting!
Needed:
Seeds
Dirt less soil
Containers
Light
Fertilizer
Water
Place to put it all!
Seeds:
You can start any seed you want indoors; it gives it a head start for some of the short seasonal growing areas.
So choose your seeds!

Containers:
You can use soda bottles, egg cartons; milk cartons, yogurt cups, etc. just use your imagination! In addition, you can make your own little pots out of newspaper:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW4t_6dTAvA
All containers must have some kind of drainage for water to get out - seeds want to be moist not soaking wet

Dirt:

You can mix your own dirt using  1/3 sphagnum moss, 1/3 perlite, 1/3  peat moss. (there's different mixes, this is what I use most of the time)
You can also buy the potting mix already mixed up in the store; make sure it has no fertilizer in it; soil with fertilizer in it is for when the plants are beginning to sprouting!

It's okay to use dirt from your own garden, but there is the possibility of insects or disease harming the seeds and seedling plants. So it's best to use a commercial potting mix. Although your garden dirt can be sterilized! Just bake it in the oven at 170 to 180 degrees for two hours! I have tried this and never had any problems using it. Nevertheless, it is a pain to bake dirt! haha

Light:
South facing windows, or a shop light! http://www.gardenlady.com/seedlingsunderlights.html
Fertilizer:
I like alfalfa pellets, or fish emulsion. The alfalfa pellets can be soaked and made into a tea to spread on the garden.

Step 1

Keep in mind that the temperature should be between 65 and 70 degrees where you are starting your seeds. If colder you can use a heating pad on bottom, but keep it dry.

Now make sure you completely soak the soil so that it's moist and put it in whatever container you will be using. Gently push the soil down to firm it. This makes it nice and compact place that seeds need for planting and germination.

Put several seeds in each container.  Bury the seeds at a depth that is about two times the size of the seed itself.  For the smallest seeds just cover them with a light sprinkling of dry potting soil.

*Be sure to label your seeds!! Or you will get a few surprises! (That’s fun also! haha)

Now for warmth I cover my containers with saran wrap or plastic bags that I have saved throughout the year. It gives the seeds a greenhouse effect,  moist and warm. They do not need any sun at this point unless the package says they do. My daughter and her husband just plant them in big tubs with lids; they keep the lids on until the seeds start sprouting up then take them off.

*Water activates the enzymes in the seed that tell the plant to start growing. The seed then swells up, bursting its shell and reaches for it's first sight of outside light and nutrients!!

















Step 2
When your seedlings start sprouting up and the first leaves appear it's time to take away the heat and the coverings and give them more light. 
 They will need about 14-16 hours of bright light each day. Place them inside by a south facing window, but it just doesn’t work for me! Mine get long and spindlely (is that a word) so I use a shop light! They are cheap and you can use them from year to year. Keep the light several inches above the seedlings and raise it as the seedlings grow. I turn it on in the morning and off when I go to bed. If you can buy a timer that would be great! Then you won't forget like me!haha!
*here is an article about grow lights and how to use http://www.gardenlady.com/seedlingsunderlights.html
Now that they are bigger they will need some nutrients. Most soiless mixes don’t have any nutrients in them. So I use some of my fertilizer in my spray, watering and fertilizing them at the same time!
*Add a balanced plant fertilizer diluted to half strength. I use a half-strength solution of fish or kelp emulsion.
Let them grow now, and every once in a while  I  run my hand over the tops of them like the wind is blowing, this will make them strong and stocky, my husband taught me this trick or you can run a fan back and forth on them.
Step 3
When they are about 6-8 weeks old you can transplant them if your pots are too small or its getting crowded in the containers.  I still use some of the soiless mix and some of my own dirt mixed in. Gets em use to my garden dirt plus my dirt has all the nice nutrients and such! Again remember to make sure the soil/dirt is damp before you transplant.
 Hint: use the eraser end of a pencil to poke a hole in the dirt then just set the seedling in! Makes it much easier!

Step 4
When they have 2-3 true grown-up leaves its time to 'Harden' them off!
That means getting the seedlings use to the outdoors. What I do is start about 2 weeks before I want to plant them outdoors.
I put all the seedlings on trays to make it easier for me tom carry, and set them out side for about an hour to start the first day, then 2, then 3 etc. Be sure to keep them out of the wind for those first days. At the end of those 1 or 2 weeks they are ready to add to your garden!!

Also remember before planting outside or even hardening off wait for the last frost. When the frost days are over start planting.
Another good idea is to plant on an overcast day, much better than a sunny day.
Another hint is when taking the seedlings out of the container grab by the leaves, gently. You do not want to break anything!

Extras!
I keep a notebook of all I do in the garden, what works and don't work. I put pictures in the notebook, ideas, wants for the garden etc.
I put all my printouts in the book.
Seed starting chart- http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/seed-starting-chart
Growing zone: http://www.aroid.org/horticulture/zonemap/
Soil mixes-  http://www.scribd.com/doc/2149325/Seed-Starting-Soil-Mixes
Seed starting PDF-  http://www.uaf.edu/ces/publications-db/catalog/anr/HGA-00032.pdf

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