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How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - My Seed Sprouting Mistakes
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How To Start A Vegetable Garden  -  30 Day Challenge  -  My Seed Sprouting Mistakes

Welcome to Day 7 of the 30 Day Challenge: How to Start a Vegetable Garden. Yesterday, we discussed selecting your seeds and I also shared some of the things I learned from my first set of seeds I planted this year. If you missed Day 6, it is published here on StreetArticles under the title How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - All About Seeds.

Today I want to share HOW I planted my seeds, the inefficient way I planted them, and some mistakes I made once they became seedlings.

Ignorance is Not Always Bliss

One beautifully warm March afternoon, I took my family to the Dollar Store to purchase some containers for our garden. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were also selling seeds for 4 packages for $1! Needless to say, we got a little excited and ambitiously purchased at least 40 different types of plants. Add in some seed starter soil and some seed starter pods and we were ready for planting!

After spending hours learning about raised bed gardens and rain water containment units, I was a little overwhelmed by the thought of researching how to start 40 different types of plants from seed.

A few days went by of beautiful spring weather and I got the itch...I had to get some of those seeds in the dirt!

So, I threw caution to the wind and started planting. I decided to start with tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower all in little seed starter pods.

Having never planted seeds for a garden before, the first thing I did was pour the seed starter soil into the tiny little pods. Then I added water and mixed. And mixed. And mixed to get that very dry dirt damp. It was a very slow process that took a lot of my patience. Of course, my daughter loved doing it, which helped a lot.

Next, I made little holes in the soil and placed 2 or 3 seeds in each hole. Then I buried the seeds, spritzed the top of the soil with water, placed the cover on the seed starter kit and eagerly waited for my plants to grow.

What I Learned

A few weeks went by and I saw that only about 25% of my lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower germinated, none of my spinach germinated, and roughly 50% of my tomatoes germinated .

My first thought was I did something terribly wrong and started doing the research I should have done in the first place. I learned two very important things from this research:

  • Until a seed becomes a seedling, it does not need sunlight or food (fertilizer). What it needs is a warm, moist atmosphere to germinate. Since it is still a seed, it must be watered gently from the top of the container. A water bottle does this best since it applies water with a fine mist that does not disturb the seeds.
  • Once the seed becomes a seedling and starts to pop out of the soil, the plant needs a minimum of 12 hours of sunlight each day (this can be from a grow light), and it must be watered from the bottom in order to encourage strong roots to grow.

My seedlings received natural sunlight through the window, but only about 6 hours per day. I was also still watering the plants with the water bottle as I thought I had read somewhere that it was good for seedlings as well. As a result, some of my tiny seedlings met their demise.

In my research, I also learned of a more efficient way to get those seeds into the soil. That will be tomorrow's article where I will have two different tips on how to do this.

30 Day Challenge

For those of you who are following along with the challenge, how are you doing? Have you started your seeds yet? What are you growing this year? If you have any questions, please post them here or on my blog and I will do my best to help you. See you tomorrow!


Street Talk

My wife loves this AJ.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Shawn!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

AJ, Thanks! Our little baby plants are coming along nicely. They sure do need a lot of light! blessings, Cynthia

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Isn't it fun! Some of my baby tomato plants looked a little wilted and weak before I got my grow lights. They've been under the lamps since Monday for 12-16 hours per day, and they haven't stood upright like I thought they might, but they have gotten a total of 4 baby leaves now, with more coming. They might make it yet!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Yes! Congratulations.

  
  about 7 years ago
C4rmen  

Another great read. I am still reeling from '40 different type of plants'. I am betting that dinner at your place in 3-6 months will be very appetizing indeed!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

C4rmen, with three of us (my 6 year old daughter included) pulling seed packets we couldn't believe how many we ended up with. But we've got some for spring planting, summer planting, and fall planting so it won't be all at once. On top of that, we also bought strawberry plants, seed potatoes, onion bulbs, asparagus, and want to grow some sweet potatoes as well. It's going to be a busy canning year if everything grows as planned. I cannot wait :)

Reply
  about 7 years ago

AJ, your article was a delight! I know you're having so much fun with all of this. I wish I could find seeds on sale like you did, I would go wild, too! And about fertilizer- they say it "burns" seedlings- and should not be used until you have a plant.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Georgia. It's funny - as a kid I didn't really like playing in the dirt, but now I'm loving getting my hands dirty and watching the little plants grow! My kids get a kick out of it too - it's the first thing they do every morning, check on the little seedlings. And they fight over who gets to water them! You're right on the fertilizer. What I've read is if you start your seeds in peat moss, water the seedling with a liquid fertilizer that is at half the concentration that you would normally make to provide the seedling with some food until you plant them into bigger pots. I haven't tried it myself, and probably won't since I use starter seed soil. I'll wait to fertilize when they are planted in their final destinations.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Great article. In my area, it's too soon to plant outdoors and I've been busier than expected, so I didn't plant indoors yet. As I may have mentioned in another comment, we are thinking about container gardening, but have a rodent problem (gophers, moles, voles- everyone gives them different names). So, we're going to get our old, cracked wading pool, add some holes for drainage and experiment with it as our "container" this year since we are working with a tight budget. We'll use some potting soil, too. However, my husband planted some peach and pear trees. We hope the rodents don't kill them.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Rebecca, I love recycling things into containers for my garden. I think the wading pool will work great - wish I had thought of that last year when we tossed our cracked one. Maybe put some newspaper or cardboard underneath the pool to provide better drainage and stop weeds from coming up through your drain holes. Or place it on a few pallets if you can find any freebies locally. I'm so jealous of your trees - first apple, now peach and pear. I want some :)

Reply
  about 7 years ago

In my learning curve with seedlings I decided the way to add a bit of heat was to put glass over the seedling box. As the seedlings germinated all I succeeded in doing was cooking the veg before the plant had grown. Burnt the seedling to death. Another lesson at the school of hard knocks, my wife who has always had great success with her seedlings from seed had a good laugh at me.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Rob, thanks for adding the note about removing the lid once the seedlings grow. I forgot to put that in the article. Which may have lead to some of my problems as well since I planted so many different seeds with different germination times in a 90+ pod container, I kept the lid on a little longer to try and germinate more seeds. It may have fried the few I already had. I need to invest in little pod containers instead so I can plant only one type of plant in each and therefore better control the germination.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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