It may be the middle of winter, but I know we’re all itching to get seeds started for the 2020 garden season! Unless you have a greenhouse, it’s probably a little early to start seeds – but now is the perfect time to plan your garden.
This blog is designed to walk you through how to start a garden from seed and serves as a support document to the podcast series that I am doing on Seed Starting, so if you want to listen in, check out the episode below:
The first step begins with deciding what you want to grow.
What do you & your family enjoy?
Or if you’re growing for a CSA or Farmer’s Market, what do your customers like to eat?
While you’re thinking about that, it might also be important to consider:
- How much space do the plants require?
- What are your anticipated harvest dates?
- Do you only want to plant once in the spring? Or do you want continual harvests throughout the season?
This may seem daunting to a new gardener, so I will be breaking these topics down in more detail through this blog series. For now, the most important thing is to decide what you want to grow and where you’re going to get it.
The best place to start is to figure out what growing zone you’re in. Check out your Hardiness Zone here: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones
This will give you an idea of what you can grow and helps you reverse engineer your seed sowing dates.
Next, you need choose what seeds you want to grow. A few of my top choices for seed include:
- Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. – this was my go-to seed company since I started gardening because I found out they had a test garden plot less than 20 miles from my house. Gotta keep it local & support Ohio companies!
- Burpee Seeds & Plants – as a 2019 Burpee Gardener of the Year, and as one of the iconic seed brands, Burpee is always a great choice for high quality seeds & plants. Just check out some of the plants I got to test last year
- Johnny’s Selected Seed – Johnny’s is a top choice for many growers because they have a large selection of organic, heirloom, and exclusive seeds.
Once you’ve picked out your seeds, the next step is to get your supplies lined up. Supplies that you’ll need will include seed trays, pots, CowPots, soil or growing media, and fertilizer.
Below are my top recommendations with explanations of why you would use these products specifically. Also, some of these links are Amazon Affiliate links and I will get paid a small commission if you purchase through the links, pictures, or Amazon ads.
For Seed Trays, I’m a big fan of TO Plastics. They make their horticultural plastic products from recycled material, so I like the sustainability factor, plus I feel that they produce a superior product with their Star Plug design to prevent circling roots.
- 1020 Trays – Growing indoors? You’ll definitely want to get some 1020 Plant Trays without holes, 10 pack
- 288-Cell Trays – If you’re growing leafy greens like lettuce or spinach, you may be growing a lot of it, and want a quick turn around time. In that case, I would recommend a 288 cell count tray Seed Starting Plug Flats, 10 Pack 288 Cells -Seedling Starter for Planting (10, 288 Cells)
- 72-Cell Trays – I use 72-cell trays for nearly everything: tomatoes, peppers, lavender, ground cherries, broccoli, and even lettuce. Here’s a nice combo of plug trays & the carrier tray: 72 Cell w/ 1020 Tray – 5 Pack Combo – Extra Strength Starting Trays for Planting Seedlings, Propagation, Germination Plugs
- Inserts – Growing for a Farmer’s Market? 6-packs are perfect for eager gardeners – or you could make combo packs: T.O. Plastics Standard Inserts 1200 Series, 21 x 10.5 x 2.25 (D) inches, 100 Trays
- Humidity Domes – typically it’s cold when we start seeds, so that means we have low humidity as well. Humidity domes are the perfect way to create an optimal microclimate around your young seedlings. And don’t you hate when the tomatoes get too tall for the domes? Test out these 7″ tall domes (mainly used for cannabis, but seems like a good fit for tomatoes or peppers too!) 1020 Trays w/Humidity Dome Extra Strength, 2 Pack, for Seed Starting Plant Propagation Germination Tray No Holes Fodder System Starter
CowPots are by far THE best growing product I have used. At first I was skeptical – they’re pots made out of cow poop. Immediately it makes you think, maybe I’ll stick to Jiffy Pots! But once you try them out, you’ll be blown away. I felt like my tomatoes were completely thriving once I transplanted them into CowPots. Not only did they have more room to grow, but they are also getting oxygenated roots, which is probably leading to air-pruning (which is a good thing) AND you don’t have to worry about transplant shock. You just plop the whole pot in the ground and let nature do its thing! CowPots Pack of 20 Starter Pots Made from Cow Manure (3″ Diameter by 3″ Depth) 100% Biodegradable/Peat Free
HydroFloat & Fertilizers
This hydroponic seed starting kit is one of the easiest things to start seeds in. This kit comes with a tray, humidity dome, 55-cell styrofoam insert, and 55 grow plugs for the foam. Once you pop the plugs into the tray, you fill it with water until the foam is floating on top. You then plant your seeds, refill the water as needed and the grow plugs will soak up water & fertilizer through capillary action. Refills & the best fertilizers for this system are listed below:
- Seedlingers Plant Fertelixir 32oz Concentrate – a molasses-based fertilizer with no fishy smell
- General Hydroponics Rapid Rooter Replacement Plugs 50 count
- Bloom Booster Increase Flower Size, 113.40 Milliliter – Mammoth P is my all-time favorite microbial stimulant. This will help with seed germination, rooting cuttings, nitrogen & phosphorus enhancer, and leads to increase blooming & yield.
Because the intro to seeds & supplies was so heavy, I am going to dive in on Soil in more detail on the next blog in this series. Keep your eyes peeled for the blog/podcast/video on Soil Health, Soilless Mixes, Soil Amendments, and more!
And if there’s any gardening questions I can help you out with – let me know, I would love to help!