Seeds can be a fun and rewarding project for all ages. It can seem a little overwhelming, but we’re here to assist your journey. Seed starting can introduce you to more varieties than you would normally find in the grocery store or flower shop. In tomatoes alone, there are more than 20 varieties in Golden Acre’s seed department. It’s beneficial to not get overly ambitious and grow everything, and to not get discouraged when things don’t go as imagined.
When embarking on your seed starting journey, it’s advantageous to do a little research to decide what you have room for and can maintain. If you’re anything like me, you get very excited in the seed department and perhaps sign up for high expectations. Plan for the end result to protect your investment. Plan for how much space and time you’ll need to care for seeds indoors. While some seeds need to be started indoors due to our short growing season, there are so many veggies you can start outdoors like carrots, lettuce, etc. Consider starting a more manageable tray of hot peppers indoors, or swapping seedlings with neighbours and friends to reduce the load on your time and resources. However, the one thing we’ll suggest is to overcompensate just a little. If you need 5 tomato plants in your garden, plant 8-10, just so you’re covered should some seeds not germinate, or something happens during seedling growth or transplant.
We have a handy seed starting chart made for the Calgary area on our website.
In today’s webinar, Colin reviewed the germination process, revealed equipment recommendations, and demonstrated how to plant tomato seeds. Here are some of the main points.
Seeds are the product of reproduction and consist of three parts:
- Seed Coat | Protective outer shell
- Seed Embryo | The seed DNA.
- Food Store | Sufficient nutrients to produce the first leaves.
Germination is the process a seed undergoes to become a plant. Heat and water are essential in breaking down the seed coat and establishing roots. Once leaves begin to break the soil surface, air flow and light factor into new processes like photosynthesis to continue growth.
- Warmth | Seed mats are great for keeping seeds evenly warm to help maintain healthy plant cell. These will be so helpful for your high production plants like tomatoes and peppers. Keep the heat mat on 24/7 until at least the first leaves start to pop up.
- We have a few in store, but this is what you’ll be looking at – Seedling Heat Mat
- Water | Moisture activates enzymes in the seed, but too much can lead to seed rot. Make sure your seeds are evenly watered and not sitting in water for prolonged periods of time. Domes can help trap moisture if life gets busy and you need help with watering. Make sure to lift it periodically or open the vents to allow gas exchange.
- Light | When your first leaves (cotyledons) break through the surface, light will enable photosynthesis. Again, balance is key. Not enough light will cause stretching and ‘legginess’, and too much light will cause burning. Ideally, you’re seedlings should receive 8 – 12 hours of light.
- Artificial light from a growlight work great and will ensure your plants get enough light every day. We have lots in store, but this one is what Colin featured during todays session: Growlights
- Air / Space | Your seeds/seedlings will do well in a spot that is warm, sunny, open and clean. Try to keep them in a single location for the full two months or so for consistency. This is why it’s important to plan for the end result. Make sure you have enough room to accommodate their continued growth.
Planting Seeds – here comes the fun part! More detailed instruction in the PowerPoint and on our “Seed Starting How-to Guide”
- Prepare the area
- Layout your containers. Sterilize upcycled pots with hydrogen peroxide.
- Add soil leave 1/2in at the top and firming layers as you go. We love the Promix Organic Seed Starting Mix because it makes life so easy.
- Read the seed packet to understand how deep the seed should be planted. gently push seed to required depth and cover. Any unused seeds can be resealed and placed in a cool, dry location until next year, up to 5 years.
- Water evenly with a spray bottle to avoid soil displacement and place tray on a heat mat.
Colin’s PowerPoint is full of helpful information about seed starting including a review of the germination process, equipment tips, and how to plant seeds for success. CLICK HERE >>> Succeed With Seeds Webinar Presentation
Catch a replay of today’s webinar here on YouTube | Success With Seeds
Q & A
Q: Do you need to sterilize soil post purchase?
A: No, not anymore.
Q: What type of heat mat and growlight do you recommend?
A: We have a few varieties in store, but here are a couple of faves
- Heat Mat | Plantbest Seedling Heat Mat
- Growlight | Sunblaster Nanotech T5 Reflector Combo
Q: What kind of cleaning solution do you recommend for repurposed pots?
A: Hydrogen Peroxide can be picked up at the pharmacist and can be used directly on tools, containers, etc. No need to dilute or seed out a stronger concentration.
Q: How many hours should the heat mat and growlight stay on?
A: The heat mat should remain on 24/7 until at least the seedling stage. Growlights are effective during the seedling stage and should be on 8 – 12 hours a day. Tip: Hook it up to a timer so you don’t have to think about it!
Q: the heat mat go under the tray or in the tray?
A: Place Does you heat mat under the tray to allow for even heat distribution.
Q: How do you label your seeds? Does putting something in the soil to label destabilize the seed?
A: No, using a thin indicator that slides into the side of the container won’t hard your seed development and a great idea to remember where you placed what!
Q: Can you use coconut coir pots for transplants and seed starting?
A: Absolutely! Just be aware that they could break down quicker as they are exposed to moisture.
WE HAVE A PODCAST!
Welcome to the Helpful Gardeners, a weekly podcast diving into the home and garden topics you want to learn more about. We hope to inform, inspire, and bring the fun as two friends who work together and go wild over gardening.
Colin is a certified horticulturist with decades of experience working in landscaping, gardening and houseplants in various climactic zones. Brandi is a beginner with a passion to ask questions and who finds ways to garden within restrictive urban settings.
We’ll bring in some friends along the way to share their knowledge, and hear from gardeners like you who are reaching garden goals. We’re so happy you found us and look forward to growing alongside you each week!
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