With the weather outside hinting at a warmer time to come, many of us have gardening on the mind! Starting an organic garden is a great way to take control of your food and reduce your ecological footprint. One of our favorite, and least costly, ways of starting a garden is to start your own seeds. The process is far easier than you think and So much fun! Let’s get Started!
Step 1. Know Your Zone!
Your local weather affects what will grow most easily in your yard. To find out what to plant you need to know your plant hardiness zone. You can easily look up your zone HERE; Pittsburghers are in zone is 6a. Most directions for planting seeds are in relation to your last frost. Of course, your frost dates are only predictions, to play it safe use May 20 as your earliest ‘safe to plant outside’ day.
Step 2. Seed Gathering
To find organic seeds, we recommend looking for a local seed swap or talking to friends who already have a garden, even check craigslist! There are numerous resources online, as well. Some of our favorites include Richters Herbs, MIgardener, SeedSavers, Seeds of Change and Johnny’s. Locally you can also pick up seeds at the East End Food Coop, Grow Pittsburgh, and Garden Dreams.
Step 3. The dirty part!
There are lots of easy to charts and growing guides online and on Pinterest. Check out THIS simple seed starting chart from Organic Gardening to determine when you should actually start your seeds.
You can buy sprouting trays at your local garden store or you can use upcycled containers you already have lying around. Take-out containers and egg cartons work well. You can also purchase an organic seed starting soil mix, or make your own with this recipe using ingredients you can find at most farm or gardening stores:
4 parts compost
1 part vermiculite
1 part perlite
2 part coir or coconut husk fiber
To plant your seeds, loosely fill your containers with soil, insert 3-4 in your seeds per segment, cover gently with soil, and moisten with water.
Remember to label your seed trays unless you want mystery veggies!
Step 4: Feed Me Seymour
You seeds need to be well hydrated for quality germination and growth. Their little holders dry out quickly so tend to them regularly! A dollar store mister is the perfect way to keep your seeds moist and prevent them floating away if you over water. To ensure sufficient daylight your seeds will need a grow light (fluorescent lights will work too) or steady time in windows with lots of sunshine – South facing windows are premium real estate for seedlings (location, location, location).
Once your seedlings have gotten some growth, you can thin out your starts to 1 or 2 plants per container so that they have sufficient nutrients and room to grow.
Step 5: Into the Garden You Go
In no time you will have leggy little starts itching to go into the ground. These little guys need to ‘harden off’ before they hit their official garden plot. This means that they need to be outside, but not in the elements, for a few days. A covered porch is perfect. Once they have had a few days to acclimate to ‘real’ weather and not your house, you can move your baby food producers into your garden!
Be sure to share your seedling pics @UnaBiologicals!
For more information and gardening classes check out Grow Pittsburgh!
© Una Biologicals® 2015