Many gardeners start their gardens by buying plants. They then place these directly in their garden plot. The advantages are the plants already have a good start and are will produce flowers or vegetables in a short time.
Other gardeners prefer to start their gardens using seeds. This way is more economical since a package of twenty seeds can be bought for less than the cost of one plant.
The biggest reason gardeners use seeds is simply because of the pride they feel from raising their plants from nothing but seed. They feel they were in control from beginning to end.
Before planting seeds in a garden, it is good to give them a head start by germinating the seeds. This way you’ll know you’re planting viable seeds.
The seed will sprout a small tail and this means the seed is alive and is ready to grow. A seed that does not germinate is useless and will not produce a plant.
Paper Towel Method
One method of germinating seeds is called the paper towel method. It requires nothing but a paper towel, a Ziploc plastic bag, and the seeds.
Place a few seeds inside a damp, but not soggy, paper towel. Fold the paper towel around the seeds. Then place the square of paper towel, with the seeds inside, into the plastic bag. Place the plastic bag on a warm surface such as a radiator or the top of a refrigerator. Leave the bag for 24 hours.
Remove the seeds carefully from the bag. If a small tail has sprouted the seed has germinated and is ready to plant. Be very careful when removing the seeds from the paper towel. If the tail comes lose from the seed it will not grow. It’s better to leave a little of the paper towel attached when you plant the seed then to risk damaging the small tail.
Another method requires planting the seeds in soil in small containers.
You’ll want to start your seeds approximately six to eight weeks before you’ll plant them outside. This means usually six to eight weeks in advance of the last anticipated frost date.
Containers should be two to three inches deep and have drainage holes on the bottom. You can make your own planting containers using old yogurt or paper cups. Or you can purchase trays that are designed especially for this purpose. They’ll have many slots that allow you to plant several seeds in each tray which makes moving the seeds much easier. You won’t have to move each small container one at a time.
It’s always a good idea to read the directions on your package of seeds to see the specific directions on how deep to plant, how often to water, and how much sunlight is needed.
Most seeds require a lot of sunlight so place containers near a south facing window where they’ll get a lot of light.
After planting, mist the containers with water so the soil is moist but not soggy. Do this every time the soil feels dry. You can add some fertilizer to the water at the recommended ratio.
Cover the containers with plastic to speed growth. Once the plants start to grow remove the cover.
In a few weeks the plants should be ready to move to larger containers or even plant outside.