Tips for growing food from seeds
Posted: January 17, 2017
Categories: Grow Your Own
Growing food from planting seeds can be accomplished by anyone with a bit of patience. The benefits include a wide range of plant options to choose from, the opportunity to practice 100% organic gardening, saving money compared to buying grown plants, and experience the joy of the gardening process.
Growing your own food
1. Choosing the seeds for your garden
The first consideration is choosing plant varieties that will thrive in your local environment, unless the plants will be grown entirely indoors. The seeds you purchase will be determined by ideal soil temperature, water requirements, nutritional needs, light requirements, and of course, personal preference.
2. Preparing the soil mixture for planting seeds
Early in the spring seeds can be planted outdoors, but most have a higher risk of dying from cold temperatures or various plant diseases and insects that may be present in garden soil. To reduce the risk of loss seeds can be started indoors in a soil-less potting mixture. This mixture can also be made from combining equal parts of vermiculite, peat, and perlite, as well as adding a quarter of a teaspoon of lime per gallon of potting mix. This mixture will be loose and disease free, allowing seeds to germinate quickly.
3. Other necessary supplies may be needed for planting seeds indoors
They include seed trays, small containers, or better, biodegradable containers. A heat source and light source is also necessary because a bit of light through a window is generally not enough to provide seeds with what they need. A heat lamp or plant lamp will do fine, or maybe a heating pad to go under seed trays.
4. Planting seeds
The potting mixture should be moistened until it is fully damp because the seeds need an extra bit of water when they are first planted to begin the germination process. Seeds of different plants should be placed in separate containers and then coated with a quarter inch thick layer of potting mixture. Read the seed packet to see whether seeds should be planted together in groups or individually. Also, note any seeds that require more light when first planted and thus should not be covered with soil.
5. Regularly water seeds
To go through the germination process and produce a sprout seeds need a constant supply of water. The potting mixture should be moist, but not soaking with water. Once the seedlings outgrow their containers and are planted outdoors they will not require as much water to thrive. It is always a good idea to research the specific watering conditions that the species of plant prefers; some need more and some require less.
6. Seeds need to be kept warm
As stated above, a heat source is necessary to create greenhouse-like conditions to aid in germination. Another way to create this environment is to utilize a glass or plastic covers to trap heat and moisture, keeping the soil within the range of 20 to 30 degrees Centigrade.
7. Sprouted seedlings need natural light
Once the tiny sprouts pop through the surface of the soil (a few days or a week), these seedlings should be moved to a natural light source that is also supplemented with a lamp. It is still important to maintain the heat of the soil at the temperature mentioned above. If you have moved the seedlings near a window, it is important to avoid allowing the cold from the window to stunt or slow the growth of the tiny seedlings.
8. Keep an eye on and maintain the plants
These seedlings will not be ready for transplanting for several weeks. One way to know when they are ready to move outdoors is by following the growth phase of the seedlings. Most plants will have a first set of leaves known as seed leaves. The true leaves, which are the second set of leaves, indicate that the plants are matured and ready to be moved. After seeds have sprouted they can be fed a bit of liquid organic fertiliser to help speed up this growing process.
9. Prepare seedlings to be moved
These small plants must now be acclimatised to the outdoor environment. This is called the hardening off process, in which the plants are slowly exposed to the weather conditions and fluctuating temperature of the outdoors. This process helps to reduce the risk of the vulnerable plants suffering from transplant shock. The hardening off process should begin about one to two weeks prior to transplant. Begin by taking the plants outdoors for only an hour a day and extend that time each day following by an hour until they can safely sit outdoors for an entire twenty-four hour period.
10. Transplant the young plants
There are certain specifications for different varieties of plants; research and follow the guidelines for ideal planting conditions based upon the species of plant.
Plants that are easily grown from seeds
While there are a number of plants that are relatively easy to grow from seeds, the easiest by far include radishes, peas, beans, lettuces, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil