Spring will return (even to those of you who have been buried in snow for months) – time to think about your gardening project! It’s not too soon to plan and start sowing seeds indoors.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, there is is 50% chance of frost in Pfafftown, NC (where I live) after April 11th. To be safe I will probably wait until around April 18th to start planting in the garden – only 7 weeks away. In preparation for warmer weather I began my indoor seed project last week in hopes of having some nice healthy perennials ready on April 18th. Perennials can be expensive, especially when you’re trying to establish a large area – seeds can reduce the costs substantially. Indoor planting is new for me so I thought I would share my progress. If it’s a success, I should have a lot of very nice perennials this summer and you’ll see how I did it. If it’s a failure, you’ll know what not to do – at my expense!
If you want to try your hand, review these tips and get started with me.
Basic gardening tips:
- Confirm your area’s gardening zone. This is IMPORTANT! It will determine which plants thrive in your location. Invest in plants that are suited for your zone, otherwise you will have problems. I live in Zone 7a. To find yours plant hardiness zone click here, and determine when it’s safe to plant outside (after last frost date).
- Map your garden. Is it sunny, shady or mixed? How many hours of sun a day? Is it dry or moist? Drains well? Different plants have different requirements (sometimes they will fool you and do quite odd places), but it’s best to be safe when investing your time and money. Observe your potential gardening areas and make notes, including size, sun exposure, moisture and drainage. Using graph paper to sketch is a great idea.
- Determine what you want to grow. Do you want shrubs, flowers, herbs or vegetables? High or low maintenance? Perennials, annuals or a combination?
- Purchase seeds. You can get the at garden centers or online – share with friends.
- Germinate seeds. Refer to the information on the seed packets to learn how and where your seeds will germinate best. Follow the instructions.
- Plant and tend! When you plant, make sure to space plants according to the directions. They look small now, but leave space for growth. Otherwise you will be moving them again soon!
My Seed Project
- Purchase supplies including: seeds, potting soil, plant cells, ziplock bags, stickers.
- Separate the 6-pack cells before you plant them – make it easier to move around later.
- Mark the 6-packs carefully and clearly (do not put 2 kinds of seeds in one 6-pack – different seeds require different germination period)
- Fill cells with soil, tamp down slightly.
- Water the cells (damp but not soppy) evenly. Wait 20-30 minutes to add seeds
- Plant the seeds per instructions on the packets (usually small seeds can pressed on top of the soil; larger seeds should be covered with soil only to depth of the size of the seed!
- Cover with clear plastic top and place in area appropriate for those seeds (again, instructions should be on the packets.
- Keep the cells moist and watch for seeds to germinate and leaves to appear.
- Some seeds need to be refrigerated before planting (simulates a winter). If this is the case, you can place the seeds in a damp paper towel inside a ziplock bag and place in refrigerator. Mark the date so that you know when to remove and put into soil.
Once they sprout and grown leaves, it’s time for the next step. I’ll keep you posted…
Note: if you have questions regarding:
- your location and zone
- local plants that thrive
- soil samples
- health of existing plants
contact your local county extension office, which can be a great resource. Many offer classes, including the Master Gardening Program, which may only require volunteer hours as payment – a great way to learn and meet other gardeners.