Starting Seeds At Home

A few days into Spring and it's a snowy day here in Pittsburgh, but I'm thinking about planting none the less.  With a simple plant light, an empty tray, seeds and soil, I get started. 

I like to use a soil block maker, as the name indicates, you can make little soil blocks to plant seeds into.  As shown in the photo, you can make 4 soil blocks at a time, lining them up to fill a tray.  I was able to fit 10 rows of 4 blocks, so 40 plants.  Read more about soil block makers here. What I like about them is that they are easy to use and they produce no plastic waste.  Just blocks of soil, that are very easy to transplant once your little seeds sprout and are ready to go into a larger pot or into the ground.  I use store bought soil.  This year it was Organic Seed Starting Mix from Jiffy.

Crops that either need a long growing season or those that tolerate cooler weather can be started now.  I planted peas, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.  I could have also started some cole crops, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, but I do not have any of those seeds and usually prefer to plant seedlings from Garden Dreams, whose seedlings are strong and pest free.  Plus I don't have room for starting a lot of plants.  

After planting the seeds, I make sure to wet down everything with a water bottle that I keep nearby for frequent misting.  And I make sure to have the light on for about 16 hours each day so that the soil warms up and seeds have enough light to germinate and grow.

Included below is a link to a planting guide that I have developed from multiple sources.  This is a good guide to what can be planted outside and when.  The letter (S) after the plant name indicates crops that are best planted in the garden by seed and (SL) indicates crops that you want to plant as seedlings, those that you have started at home or purchased from Garden Dreams! It also includes a range for expected harvest times and a reminder to plant in succession for certain crops.