For those of us that really enjoy all aspects of vegetable gardening, the greatest gratification can be the reward of a crop you started by seeds.
Seeds have been available since the settlers brought over from their home soil and started planting their crops. Seeds are fairly easy to germinate; and with proper timing will yield wonderful crops for you and your family.
The question is where do you start? And what do you plant? Since there are so many varieties of seeds let’s break it down for an easy to grow. How large is your garden or container and how much light exposure does your plot receive?
1. Most seeds are easy to grow. For example, radishes, beans, tomatoes, peas, sprouts, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, greens, corn, squash, onions, peppers, cucumbers and melons, are easy to germinate.
2. How large is your garden? Root Crops such as carrots, radishes and onions and be grown closer together in small groups to maximize the soil space. Corn, greens, lettuce need a little more space, maybe 6 to 8 inches, separation for good growth. Tomatoes, squash, melons and cucumbers spread out and need a minimum of two feet separation. Your seed catalog has this important spacing information for each specific variety.
3. How large is your container? This one is difficult to answer because it’s difficult to determine root mass for a specific vegetable plant and figure out the correct size container you need to be successful.
a. Here are some tips: Root crops, lettuce, sprouts have shallow root systems. A container that holds about 3 to 4 in depth of soil is sufficient. Length and width will determine how many seed you can sow.
b. Squash, cucumbers, melons, peppers, corn need more soil volume. I have been successful in using a 2 or 3 gal container for these varieties.
c. Tomatoes especially need larger containers. Use a container 15 gallon or larger for all indeterminate varieties. You may get away using a 3 to 5 gallon container for semi determinate and determinate varieties.
Once you have selected your seeds. Sowing the seed is next.
Use a well-drained soil. I use a 50/50 mix of loose peat moss and perlite. Make sure the mix is well hydrated before planting.
Drain any excess moisture.
You can use many forms of containers. I normally use a ground cover flat to sow tomatoes or peppers. Larger seeds such as cucumbers, squash and beans should be sown directly into the soil or sown directly into your window box or desired container. Push the seed in about 1 inch deep. You can sow directly into a 2 inch plastic pot or even a used egg carton for easy transplanting. Radishes, carrots, beets and onions should be sown direct into the ground or desired containers as they do best if the roots are not disturbed during transplant.
Fill the desired container with your well hydrated media. If planting in the egg carton, add three seeds to each cell. If planting radishes in a shallow container, scratch a straight line and lightly place seeds about 1 inch apart along the line.
Take a couple of handfuls of dry peat moss and cover the seeds. Cover seeds from 1/8 to ¼ inch of dry peat. No need to water at this point. If you hydrated the soil mixture well, you will notice the water will wick through the dry peat. Cover the container with saran or wet newspaper and wait for seed to pop through the soil.
Radishes will germinate from 24 hours and appear through the soil within the week. They can be harvested in 30 days.
Tomatoes will germinate within 7 days and pop through the soil in 10 to 14 days. They will be ready to transplant to the next size container in 45 to 60 days.
Have fun and enjoying watching your seeds grow into a specular crop of wonderful vegetables.