There is just something so exciting and rewarding to see something grow from nothing thanks to your hands, nay, fingers. It started out as a curiously last year, and this year I have a greenhouse. So, let’s just say that my curiosity is blooming.
Okay, I should have it out of my system now, but I can’t make any promises. Puns are so much fun. I really wanted this to be one blog and show you everything from the very beginning to the end, but I realized that maybe, some of my readers would also want to explore and play around with their own batch of seedlings. I will have the follow-up part go up at the end of the planting season.
Now, without further ado, let’s get started!
Prepare the seedling pots
If you don’t have a bunch of old nursery pots lying around, you can use plastic drinking cups. It’s incredibly cheap and the chances are, you already have it lying around. I had a few to mix my paint in, so I just stole a few from there for my precious seedlings. What’s incredibly important though, is to create holes for drainage. What I like to do is, plop myself on the couch, take a needle (or toothpick, anything sharp), put on something in the background, and poke away at the sides. It seems to be working well, but I do want to try a different drainage system next year, just to see how it goes. Next year, I’m going to put bigger holes at the bottom and the still have my tiny holes on the side, and maybe even have a layer of small rocks at the bottom? I’ve noticed that it’s draining but it could drain more. But, as the seedlings only stay in these cups for 4 – 6 weeks (depending on the seed), it doesn’t need that much? Plants are incredibly strong and can survive more than what you would think.
Once it’s time to start the sowing, I will take my already prepared cups and fill it up with (fertilized, I use potting soil with pieces of bark mixed in) soil. You want it to be loosely filled. If the ground is condensed and stuffed into the cup, the new baby seedling might have a hard time spreading its little roots.
Plant your seedlings!
This is definitely my favorite part, but this can take quite a bit of time. I would take it in batches and go according to the plant. Always and I mean always, plant more seedlings than what you think you will need. Not all of them will take. You also don’t need those seed packets, unless you want flowers. For most of our vegetables and fruits, I harvest my seeds from our scraps. When I know I’m going to start planting my seeds, I will take the seeds from our meals. We love tomatoes, green peppers, and chili peppers. We eat these often, so there is an abundance of seeds to take from our scraps. For the fruits (mainly strawberries), I will ask my husband to buy a box of strawberries or even a fruit mix, and then scrape off the seeds. Strawberry seeds are incredibly small and if you want to plant one seed per container, it’s going to take some time and effort. What I did was: scrape off the top layer (so there’s going to be some strawberry gunk) and spread it on a paper towel. I rubbed it into the towel that then absorbed the strawberry gunk and juice (it’s going to be messy), left it to dry out, and then just picked out the seeds a few hours later. I didn’t even need one strawberry to get 50 seeds. You could probably also plant an entire strawberry and a strawberry will definitely grow from it. I truly just enjoy the process of collecting little seeds from our food. It makes me more excited to see the little sprout pop up.
The planting part is incredibly easy. I just poke a hole into the ground with my one finger, drop the seed in, and fill in the hole with soil. That’s it. It’s incredibly important to really soak the ground with water once you’re done with planting. It needs to be nice and moist to stimulate the seed to sprout. If you don’t give it a good soak in the beginning, nothing is going to happen. I learned this the hard way.
Watch them sprout up
Where you leave these little pots of seedlings is incredibly important. It needs a lot of sunlight. It also needs to stay in the sun for as long as possible. The first year we did this, we just sat them on our window still and they did relatively well…but our cats didn’t make it easier. This year, we invested in a greenhouse. It’s relatively cheap one from the hardware store and it seems to be doing a great job. I do think I will have my husband build a greenhouse that fits our space better next year but shhh he doesn’t know that yet. You also get those nursery containers that you can pop onto the window still to protect your seedlings from your cats. Cats make being a plant mom so much harder.
Once you have it baking away in the sun, water it every few days once you see the ground dry up. The plastic cups I use are relatively see-through so you can actually see the roots grow and even see if it needs water or not. You can’t always tell from the top layer as the sun will dry this out. If you go by the top layer, it’s possible that you’re overwatering your seedlings. I sometimes stick a toothpick into the ground to see how moist the bottom layer is. Depending on your plant, it will take about a week to see any action. Some plants go a lot quicker than others. I planted my tomatoes and strawberries at the exact same time. I have quite a bit of tomato sprouts popping up but one tiny little thing for a strawberry sprout. It will also take some time and experience to see which plants need more sunlight. I had my row of strawberries on the third row in my greenhouse and after studying them for two weeks, I saw that only the first line was getting enough sunlight. So, I moved it to the second row and it seems to be responding quite well to it. It’s all very new to me, but I’m truly enjoying it so much.
Replant your seedlings
After a few weeks, you can finally replant your baby sprouts into your garden. I personally prefer it if my sprouts are quite big. I noticed that if they’re still too small and fragile, they just don’t have a chance against the cats. The nice thing about the semi-clear plastic cups I use is that I can see the roots. So, I usually wait for the roots to reach a certain point (¾ of the way down) before a replant them. They pop out quite smoothly from the cup and almost fall apart in your hands, that’s how loose the soil is. If your soil is a bit more condensed, I would break it apart a little bit so the roots are loose and ready to spread in the new ground. Depending on how moist the ground is around your roots, I would time out the big watering session in their new homes. I replanted my first batch of flowers just on time for this blog and saw that my ground was quite moist. A bit too moist but luckily there wasn’t any root rot. I then decided it would be for the best to not water the sprouts again in the new ground and give it a few days to dry out. I also knew it was going to rain in a few days. I’m not sure how these little baby sprouts will do in the garden but I’m definitely enjoying the process.
I’m learning and I already have a few notes of what I would want to do differently next year. It’s an incredibly rewarding process. I can’t wait to see my plants take root and grow nice and big. This weekend, I’m going to plant some more seeds. I got pumpkin, watermelon, corn, and green bean seeds today and my fingers are itching to get them going. I’m also playing around with planting some seeds directly into our little vegetable bed but well…we have cats. I’ve honestly just been experimenting a lot with this and I’m eager to see how I will grow into a true plant mom.
I will definitely write another blog to show off the results in a few weeks. Stay tuned for that if you’re interested!
Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!