Indoor Seed Sowing Action
April 9, 2008
I’ve been sowing seeds like mad these last couple of weeks, feeling like I’m behind when I’m really not. I set my Lazy Gardener’s Automatic Seed Starting Chart for a frost free date of May 17th, a week earlier than the usual Victoria Day long weekend planting-out date of May 24th for my area. However, this year the long weekend is a week early and, coupled with my early start date, I’m all thrown off about when I really need to start my seeds. So depending on which date I’m looking at I’m either 5 or 6 weeks before my last frost-free date. Plenty of time to keep sowing seeds indoors.
A YOUNG GARDENER
A couple of weekends ago I asked my 7-year-old nephew if he wanted to sow some seeds for his garden. He picked out ten different types of plants:
- Tomato: colour mixture, Blondkopfchen, Sweetie, Black Plum, Red Lightning, Purple Cherokee and Green Zebra
- Zucchini: Sensation
- Lettuce: Mesclun Mix
- Spinach: Melody
I’d shake out two seeds from the package into a small cup and he’d pick them out with the seeder and put them in the peat pellet. I’d write up the name of the seed and date on two pieces of sticker and he’d put it on a toothpick and stick it into the soil. Then we watered them and tucked them under some Saran Wrap to germinate. It was fun and he was really excited about it.
He was so exited that this past weekend he brought me a package of Jack O’Lantern pumpkin seeds and we sowed those too. I have no idea where I’m going to put that many pumpkin plants, however, I’m happy that I can share my obsession with him.
I went to Lowes in the States and bought a three-tier chrome shelf (18”deep x 24”wide x 36”high) to use for hardening off my seedlings and help reduce the floor space taken up by the flats. It’s the same make as the four-tier chrome shelf that I have as my grow-op. I brought it home and set it up:
The top tier is temporarily holding an unfinished flat of tomato seedlings, the middle tier is a full flat of marigold seedlings for my partner’s grandmother and the bottom tier is my nephew’s pumpkin seeds. Each shelf can hold two flats and I was able to find a set of matching rolling wheels and put those on. Now I can easily move the shelf and spin it around instead of having to move the trays when the seedlings grow towards the light. Here are some marigolds stretching towards the sun:
I like pre-sprouting some of my seeds on a heating mat to ensure enough seeds germinate for my flats. I soak a coffee filter in water, place the seeds in a grid on a quarter of the filter, fold in half and then in half again and place in the Ziploc bag to put on top of the heating mat. Here you can see some Purple Cherokee tomato seeds that were started on March 24th.
Three days later on March 27th you can see they’ve pre-sprouted and need to be put in a seedling tray:
Here I’ve taken them out of the coffee filter and placed them about an inch apart on top of pre-moistened seedling mix:
I covered the pre-sprouted seeds with more seedling mix, put a piece of Saran Wrap over it and stuck it under my grow light set-up:
I was worried that last year’s success was a fluke, however, things have been coming up pretty well these last few weeks. I’ve had a small problem with the seed coat not coming off on some of my tomato seedlings and I think I’ve been able to get around that by lightly pressing the soil surface once I’ve sown the seeds. That way the newly germinated seed can break through the soil surface, leaving the seed coat behind.