It is mind boggling to me that last year was the first in my life that I have started seeds indoors to give the garden a jump start. I’ve done a lot of growing from seeds planted directly in the garden, but I last year was the first year that I’ve started things inside.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. The best part was having something to do that is remotely related to gardening at the time of the year when I so desperately want to do it, but it is way too early to do anything outside.
I’ve always thought that one of the best parts of gardening was the satisfaction that comes from seeing something that you’ve nurtured flourish. As I discovered vegetable gardening, that satisfaction only multiplied. But to grow something from seed in your basement and have it end up on your table as part of a delicious meal is perhaps the ultimate in gardening satisfaction.
It’s also an incredibly frugal way to make a garden. Of course there’s no point in fooling yourself that you grew something for the price of a seed. There is seed-starting mix and potting mix to be purchased. Seed trays, small pots and energy to run the seed-starting mats and grow light. I don’t know what that all adds up to; whatever it is, it was worth it.
I have a lot of seed starting plans for this year. It’s probably more than is practical given the limited space and single grow light that I have but restraint has never been my strong suit. Some things that I started indoors last year will be directly sown due to space constraints. Other things, particularly flowers, will be started inside with my fingers tightly crossed.
There is some science to growing from seeds. There is a right time to start seeds indoors so they don’t suffer as they outgrow a tiny pot while you wait for the weather to warm up so they can go outside. Every seed has conditions it likes. Many want some heat to get started. Others need darkness or light. Some are very fussy about the size of the pot they are in. How’s a garden supposed to know it all?
This year I've relied on a few sources to gather information on all of the things I plan to grow from seed. The first is a book called Annuals and Tender Plants for North American Gardens by Wayne Winterrowd. This out of print book (I found it on Amazon and it came as a retired library book, sadly hardly used) was suggested by Matt Mattus of Growing with Plants and I think it's an excellent reference book for any serious gardener. The second book is one I was sent for review, The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler (of occasional British gardening television fame). This has wonderful information on growing almost anything edible and is presented in a very colorful and fun-to-look-at manner. These are two books I'll definitely keep in my gardening library for the long term. And the last source, of course, is the Internet.
Online, I started with Margaret Roach’s seed starting guide and worked from there using the books for more detailed information. I compiled all the information onto a spreadsheet so I know when to start seeds, what they need for germination or any other growing tips and when to transplant them outside. I just wanted a place with all the information in one glance, rather than having to try looked it all up with dirt on my hands.
Here’s what it looks like so far. There are a few things to add to my chart, but this is a start.
The great news is that I’m just a couple weeks away from starting a few things which means that I will be officially gardening, not just mentally gardening. It will be good for my brain not to mention my gardening soul.
Are you planning to start some things from inside this year?