By Lydia George
With spring around the corner growers are beginning to plan their crops for the coming year. Here are some 101 tips for starting seeds this season! There are two main ways to start seeds, the first is into seed trays, and the second is to sow them directly into the soil.
There are pros and cons to both styles that I will lay out for you.
Starting seeds in trays is great because you can get a jump on the season and have crops for harvesting earlier in the year! Many farmers and gardeners will start seeds as early as February for hardier early spring varieties, and now is a great time of year for planting summer crops in trays,
so that by May you will have larger plants to put in your garden.
The hard thing about using seed trays is that you will need to make sure that the conditions in the pot are never too moist or too dry, and you need to continue to size up the pots as the plant grows and eventually move the plant to your garden bed. This process of numerous transplants can be hard on a baby plant and can take a toll on their health for their entire life cycle.
The best way to avoid detrimental effects to your potted seedlings is to make sure that you never transplant during sunny days. The sunshine will be too much for the baby plant and they could easily wilt or dry up. It is best to make the transplant on cloudy or rainy days if that is an option, or in the evening so that the plants have all night to adjust to their new environment.
Make sure to keep the plants well watered and tended to during the first 2 weeks after transplanting.
Sowing seeds directly into the soil will allow for stronger, more resilient plants that will need less tending during their life cycle because they are becoming established in the same place from the moment they sprout, the way nature intended them to grow. That being said, for direct sowing seeds you often have to wait till the frost is over, which means there will be a longer wait to harvest than with plants you start indoors in trays.
Directly sown seeds are also more at risk of other environmental conditions like birds, rabbits, deer and insects who may find your baby plants to be a delicious and much needed snack. These seeds also could be put at risk of a late frost or other weather conditions. This means that you may end up with less plants than seeds you put in the ground, and should plant extra accordingly. There are also homemade organic sprays you can use to deter pests and products like row cover you can use for elemental protection.
A good gardener will often use a mix of directly sown crops and ones that were prestarted in trays. Whatever you choose to do, as long as you tend to your seedlings with care they will surely flourish!