Wow! Do I love spring! The sense of renewal, the anticipation of summer vegetables and fruits, the glorious hot days! More than ever this year, I am ready for it!
So what do you do with all that pent up anticipation? Start the summer seeds! It isn't too early for us here in the south. During a more 'normal' year, I would have tiny seeds up already. This year, not so much. I am just now starting them.
Starting seeds is easy! And very inexpensive when compared to purchasing small plants at a store. The largest costs are the seeds. However, I also purchase good quality potting soil to start my seeds in. It isn't necessary to purchase potting soil if you make compost each year. Compost is an excellent starting medium. My homemade compost is at a premium, I can't make enough for all the things I want to do with it! So, I save it to improve my garden soil.
Next step to consider is the pots you will use to start the seeds. I don't purchase any pots. It is a complete waste of money! I make my own from newspaper. You can see how to do that here.
Once you decide what you want to grow, the rest is easy. Plant the seeds according to the package directions. This year, I am starting seeds for: tobacco, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, chili peppers, many different kinds of herbs, vanilla marigolds, and regular marigolds. Starting seeds early gives the plants a head start when they are ready to go into the garden. If you live in an area that has a very short summer, starting seeds indoors becomes critical to your ability to produce anything. Some plants require a very long growing season!
I haven't finished planting mine. I do a few each evening before I go to zumba. I expect to finish in a few days.
Once they are all planted, it is important to keep them warm and moist. Not too wet, just moist. Some seeds (such as woad and soapwart) won't germinate if they are too wet. I usually place them in a separate tray and don't water it as often. A warm environment is important. Some people use a heating pad underneath their seed trays. That can be very helpful if you can't keep the environment warm. I have never had to use one. My guess is, if I lived further north, I would need one! Here, it doesn't seem to be necessary.
Water the seeds gently. Then to keep the humidity up, I cover with plastic wrap. Check the seeds daily. In my area, I must check constantly for mold growth. It is important to do that every day, but more so if the sun isn't shinning. Mold growth on the soil can rot the seeds. The seeds seem to pop up quicker for me if I put them in a west facing window. Here is a picture of one of my trays from last year.
They should start to appear in about seven to ten days!