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4 Lessons Learned on Seed Starting

A little over one month into our seeds’ journeys & you can see that they have all taken very different paths on their journey from seed to CSA.

Evergreen Green Onions & Starhawk Lettuce were the first seeds we planted on February 12th. Both began with decent germination, but I soon saw the flaws in my methods. As the Onions & Lettuce grew, I noticed that germination was spotty, the seedlings were laying down rather than growing tall & standing and I didn’t really figure it out until I planted my 2nd round of trays – I didn’t dibble deep enough holes for the seeds & they were essentially sprouting on top of the soil. This left the roots exposed & did not provide a strong environment for survival.

Lesson 1!

Kale was another one we seeded early because it too is a cold-weather crop. We started it under fluorescent lights and it was doing okay – a little leggy because it wasn’t getting the proper amount of light distributed amongst the whole tray, but it was a whole different story once we put them under the Total Grow Broad Spectrum LED lights – mmm, real light! However, the Evergreen Onion seedlings seem to be doing amazing under the fluorescent – I’ll take it!

Lesson 2!

While everything else is thriving, I look at these empty trays and wonder, “what did I ever do to you Starhawk Lettuce, why won’t you grow!?”

IMG_20180307_172921_811.jpg

Starhawk grew great for us last year, so I can’t quite figure out the problem. At first I thought it was temperature – but even tomatoes & peppers have germinated and they typically need a warmer environment (especially Ghost Peppers) so it couldn’t be that. Then I thought it was the trays – but here’s how the Starhawk Lettuce looked in the same growing trays last year:

Lettuce sprouts
Lettuce growing in the greenhouse

So it couldn’t be the trays fault. I know I planted the first tray of seeds too shallow, but I corrected it for the second tray – and still having issues. At this point, the only thing I can think is that the leftover seeds from last year’s planting actually did hit their expiration date – I’m going to keep the faith on these bad boys & hope they decide to come around! Moral of the story, always analyze, refine, and attempt to correct issues early or preemptively if possible!

Lesson 3!

The seeds that I am the most surprised & excited about are the Tomatoes & Peppers. We planted 4 types of tomatoes & 6 types of peppers and saw germination of the tomatoes within 7 days & germination of the peppers within 10 days. Since I am growing some hot peppers including Habaneros & Ghost Peppers, I knew that I would have to add some heat to get them off to a strong start. In order to do that I put them under fluorescent lights which give off heat unlike LEDs which usually don’t add much heat to the system. And I also used seedling heat mats under the trays of tomatoes & peppers, which sped up germination like I couldn’t believe! I’ve always thought that it was hard to get Ghost Peppers to sprout, but I saw sprouts in 10 days! Maybe I’ll try another tray of lettuce & use the heat mats πŸ€”

Lesson 4!

Seedstarting is always a time of excitement with anticipation of spring, but more importantly, it is a time to analyze your challenges and develop a plan to dominate your garden execution. Here are the 4 lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. Dibble holes for seeds – AKA plant seeds at the proper depth.
  2. Total Grow Broad Spectrum LED lights over everything! (Except, maybe, for onion seeds).
  3. Be aware of the challenges – analyze, refine, correct & always have an open mind to learn from mistakes rather than punish yourself for them.
  4. Seedling heat mats make life better by jumpstarting germination

Seedstarting is my favorite time of the year because I get to dive into my passion of plants & gardening and because it’s conclusion is spring! I hope this helped with your seed starting questions – leave a comment with any further questions or challenges you have and I’ll be happy to answer in the comments or on my podcast on Anchor called Plant Rant!

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4 Responses

  1. Hi, thanks for your interest in my blog, I thought I’d come and see what you’re up to. This is an interesting post on seeds and all the hope, expectation and sometimes false starts at this time of year. Enjoying your philosophical approach to gardening mixed with practical advice. I can’t use fluorescent lights or heat to germinate seeds where I live because our house in the UK has limited electricity. It’s a traditional quaint English stone cottage in the woods with no mains power or water. 🌳 πŸ¦‹πŸ‘πŸŒ²πŸ¦”(From where we try to lead a normal family life) This year I started seeds off on the Aga (which runs on coal). Gardening is a history lesson for us as well as a lesson in life! πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸŒΎπŸ”

    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! And glad you like the format of practical philosophy – I really don’t know any other way to collect my thoughts lol but I appreciate the input! Your home sounds so magical – the stone cottage in the woods – I’m looking forward to seeing how everything turns out on your garden journey this year. Thanks for stopping by – love hearing about other gardening challenges & unique approaches

  2. I had a look at your website, because of the note you included in an eBay purchase. We’re on the opposite end of the spectrum from you. We’re apartment dwellers and have started some seeds (parsley, cilantro, oregano and basil). These are in a window with eastern exposure (morning sunlight) in the kitchen. One day, perhaps, we’ll have a small outdoor garden when we move.

    1. That’s awesome! When did you start your seeds & how are they doing? I love growing herbs because they’re so much more flavorful when grown by your own hand. Another thing you could do is grow stuff in pots – you can grow a mixed pot of a tomato plant with herbs, lettuce and onions in that same pot. Maybe my idea is a little packed lol, but the options are endless in containers! Thanks for stopping by the site – I really appreciate it! Let me know if you have any questions or anything else I could do to provide some gardening value for you!

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