Starting Seeds Indoors
February in Richmond. For only 28 days, it’s the longest month of the year here in Richmond. The weather is so radical and confusing. Being indoors for most of the Winter, the 70 degree days this week will turn back to harsh, snowy, teens next week. That, my friends, tells me it’s time to start my veggie garden in the garage.
Two weeks ago, I started getting my starter racks ready, went thru my seed packets, looked at my pics from last years garden, then made vegetable soup from some frozen goodies.. This week, the racks will be full of flats, and I will be looking towards solarizing my garden bed in March. More on that later.
The process is very simple, weather you have room or not, you should try to go from seed for most of your garden. It’s fun and rewarding not only from the project accomplished, but also from the harvest.
All You Need Is Time
As you start planning out your garden bed or containers, the From Seed process is simple math. On the back of all packet seed, you will see an emergence time. That will tell you some important info. For example, Green Beans are very fast coming up. They can actually be direct sown in the plot. Starting indoors is like 2 weeks from transplant. Tomatoes, on the other hand, take a good while, so, starting indoors is beneficial, especially if it’s an heirloom or particular hybrid you like. Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, and Onions mathematically come out to be, well, now…
From the emergence time on the packet, add 4 weeks, then subtract that time from April 15th, our average last killing frost here in Richmond. That is a great time frame to have the root and leaf structure on your transplants to go to work for you in the garden bed. Too soon, and chances are you will need to repot before going outside, too late, and the neighbors will be picking way before you, and no one wants that. There are different opinions on how long to get them ready, but for me, I have seen Winter over by early March before, and I have seen Snow in mid April as well. This timeframe works for me, and I am not afraid to cover my seedlings once or twice because of a late “icing” in April.
The soil temp is about 63 degrees at 4 inches by then, so the roots are lovin it, and we will have gained about 3 1/2 hrs of daylight, so the leaf structure is lovin that. Just watch the local weather for a bit, to make sure you get them covered if you need to.
So the simple seed starting process is this:
Seed to soil contact, moisture, bright light, and patience. No food until you see the 4th leaf sprout. Use soiless seed starting mix, not potting soil. If you have no sunny spot, then a plant light, or, if you are making a rack with fluorescent tubes, any 2 different types will get you all the spectrums to germinate. This year, I am trying a few new things for germination, I’ll let you know later if they worked.. I’m not afraid to fail, but always quick to share. It’s time folks. This week, the Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Peppers are under light. Buy any of the seed starting kits out there or make your own, just think simple, don’t over engineer the process. The plant knows the way, you just have to help some. Time to have some fun.