Garden Planning 101: Seed Starting

This post is a part of a series on planning your 2013 garden.  Click here to read all of the posts in this series.  
If you've been following this series of posts over the past month, you've already taken stock of your seed collection, selected the varieties you want to plant, and have developed a fruitful and functional garden plan, and now that we've come to the last post of the series, it's time to get down to business and talk about getting started on growing your 2013 garden.

Whether you've already placed your seed order to get a head start on growing or are planning on hitting the local garden center when the weather warms up for just a few seed packets and plants, getting ready to plant is where things get real (and exciting!).  There is an art and a science to seed starting, but it all comes down to a few basic rules that are easy to follow.  Knowing the basics on when and how to start seeds will go a long way to ensure the success of your garden.

Know When to Plant 'Em
Remember when I told you garden planning is all about location, location, location?  Here it comes back into play as the determining factor of when you should start planting your seeds.  Knowing your frost free dates will tell you not only when, but how to start your seeds.

There are two different ways to start seed:

A good source of information on how and when to plant is the back of the seed packet, where you will find recommendations as to which method is best (or if both are an option), and will also give you the recommended number of weeks before last frost date to start seeds indoors.  It's also a good idea to check a planting calendar that takes into account your specific location or use an online garden planner that will generate a customized planting schedule.

The Right Set Up
If you are going to start seeds indoors, it's important to have the right set up to give your seedlings the right conditions in which to grow and thrive.  A lot of seeds will germinate under less than ideal conditions, but without the right conditions, the quality of your seedlings will suffer.

Getting Started
Once you have everything you need to start your seeds indoors, it's time to get started:

As it gets closer to time to transplant the seedlings into the garden, there are some things you can do to make the transition easier on your tender vegetable plants (the same principles will apply to plants you purchase at a garden center to transplant into the garden).  For additional details, check out my post on transplanting from last spring.

Direct Sowing
When the time finally arrives to start direct sowing seeds in the garden, many of the same seed starting principles will be helpful to keep in mind.  Additionally, pay attention to these basics of direct sowing:  

So there you have it: all the basic information and resources you'll need to plan and start growing your 2013 garden!  I hope you've enjoyed this series as much I have enjoyed working on it (and on that note, if there are other topics you'd like to see covered in a similar way, let me know).  Good luck and happy gardening!

Labels: , ,