Planting vegetable seeds indoors

It's possible to have a fine vegetable garden by buying young plants. But you will have a much wider range of possibilities if you start your own plants from seeds indoors.

Not only is it much cheaper, but you can buy seeds for many more varieties than you will find for sale as plants. That will allow you to experiment with more different flavors, shapes and colors, and to harvest your favorite edibles over a longer period by planting varieties that mature at different times.

But many of our favorite flowers and vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans, evolved in places such as Central America and Mexico where they had many more hours of sunlight in their growing season that they can get in most of the United States. Their seeds will not sprout in soil that is still cold in spring and the fruits need more sun to ripen than is available in the waning days of autumn.

If you were to sow tomato seeds in the ground outdoors in May in New England, Oklahoma or Minnesota, the plants would take so long to grow that the first frost in October would likely kill them before you got a single ripe tomato.

Even for crops that don't come from near the equator, starting seeds indoors gives plants a head start that brings earlier harvests and greater yield.

The same is true for many of our favorite annual flowers. If you start them indoors, they can spend more time in your garden flowering instead of getting mature enough to flower. Even many perennials benefit from a good head start indoors.

For your first experience of starting seeds, it's wise not to take on too much. Start a couple of dozen plants in three or four varieties while you learn how it all works.

Different plants have different needs, so consult the seed packet to find out how many weeks each variety will take to get ready indoors before your last frost date.

Many vegetable seed packets state a number of days to maturity, such as "65 days" or "80 days." Make sure you know whether that means days from sowing the seed or days from transplanting outdoors; it varies from vegetable to vegetable.

Starting seeds is not complicated or difficult, if you understand the process. The basic ingredients are a proper growing medium, containers, light, warmth, water and attention.

Growing medium. Seedlings are very delicate. For the best chance of success, start them in a fresh, sterile seed-starting mix that is light and fluffy to hold just enough moisture. If the growing medium is too wet or not sterile, disease can strike. If it is too heavy or sticky, fine new roots won't be able to push through it.

You can use bagged seed-starting mix, or buy compressed pellets of peat or coir (coconut husk fibers) that expand when wet. Since seeds contain the nutrients the seedlings will need, fertilizer isn't important in your seed-starting mix.


Quick vegetable planting question

2008-03-18 07:40:43 by oregondiver

I forgot to check my seeds in the shed over the weekend and dealing with some family heart attack issues, so will be out of town again this weekend...
So for lack of being able to check my seeds for Portland Oregon zones...maybe y'all with your knowledge at their fingertips can help? :)
What else was I supposed to plant in March (from my seed list below)? Or what seeds should I start indoors with the growing light?
ALready have lettuce, spinach, cilantro (donaters from last year), onions, garlic, peas in.
Peppers are already ready to plant in ground, but is it too soon to plant them outdoors?
Carrots?
Cukes
pumpkin
More peppers started indoors?
beans (pole, runner, bush)
tomatoes
basil
tomatillos
...


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