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Many types of vegetables, herbs, and flowers are elementary to grow from seed. You can save money and find a wider variety to choose from when you start your own growing seedlings plants instead of purchasing them at the store.
Growing Garden Plants From Seed
Why Grow Plants From Seed?
The approach of the growing season presents all gardeners with one fundamental choice; start from seed or mature plant? Watching a plant grow through its entire life cycle, seed to plant, and back to seed is very rewarding and often makes growing from seed worth the effort. But it does take effort and a little know-how.
Seed catalogs provide a vast range of plant varieties, colors, growth forms as well as organic seeds. So starting from seed affords you more choice. Growers don't need to settle for the smaller selection of plants available at the local garden center.
Although it's not always the case, growing from seed can also be less expensive than the purchasing seedlings or mature plants. Starting seeds indoors, before the outdoor growing season, does require the right supplies for creating a suitable indoor environment. Still, most of the expense is associated with the first season your start seeds. Once you have the equipment, the cost of growing from seed is minimal.
How to Start Seeds
Soil, Light, Water and Air Circulation
Young plants germinating from seed are fragile and vulnerable. Purchase a special growing mix for starting seeds and trays that provide good drainage. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist while the young plants are developing root systems.
If you do not have an area in your home that receives a large amount of natural light, purchase an inexpensive shop light (or, even better, a full spectrum grow light). Hang the light on an adjustable chain, just barely over the top of the seedlings, and adjust the height as your seedlings grow.
Seedlings also require adequate air movement to help prevent fungal growth and stems from rotting at the soil line. A small fan set up in the growing area, or a ceiling fan in the room, will do the job.
When planning your garden, order your seeds well in advance of the growing season. Many plants can be started inside weeks before the climate is suitable outdoors. Starting seeds a few weeks before the growing season will provide you with robust seedlings by the time the temperature is mild enough to transplant. Follow the planting instructions on the seed package. If you buy from a quality seed vendor, each seed package should have detailed instructions on it.
Hardening off and Transplanting
The first green that you'll see peeking through the soil will not be the plant's true leaves, but rather the cotyledons. The plant uses the stored energy within these fleshy appendages to grow until it can produce true leaves capable of photosynthesis.
Don't transplant until your seedlings have a couple of sets of true leaves. Before planting outside, you will have to harden off your seedlings, exposing them to the outdoors for short and then longer periods so that they can become acclimated to the sunlight and temperature fluctuations.
Starting Seeds Outdoors
You don't have to start your seeds indoors. Depending on the region that you live in, it may be possible to wait until the outdoor climate is suitable to plant the seeds directly in the garden. However, for plants that require a long growing season, starting seeds indoors is sometimes necessary, particularly if you live in a colder climate with a short growing season.