As I write this, the temperature is in the mid 30’s and it’s hard to believe its time to think about the Spring garden! Our average last freeze date in Austin is March 8 and typically seeds need 6-8 weeks prior to transplanting, which means those seeds get started in January!
Growing from seed can have several advantages: early start for plant growth, amazing seed choices and inexpensive cost compared to buying individual plants. However, keep in mind as you select your seeds, not all varieties grow well in our area (like the heirloom tomatoes from Tennessee I attempted – delicious, but not very productive here).
To start seeds:
- use a seed starting mix or a 50/50 blend of sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite and use a clean container like a seed starting tray.
- Wet the mix to be moist but not soggy. Follow directions on seed packets to determine planting depth.
- After the seeds are planted, spray the surface with a mister/spray bottle to settle in the seeds.
- Cover the tray with the included lid or some plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. The soil temperature will need to stay at a constant 70-75 degrees. My success at germination was greatly improved when I used a heat source under the tray and there are mats available for that specific purpose.
- A fluorescent light is also extremely helpful for plant growth.
- Transplant seedlings into larger pots once the plants have two sets of true leaves (not including the first two leaves, which are called cotyledons.)
- Continue to make sure they receive plenty of light and adequate water.
- “Pot up” the plants one more time.
- Begin to ready the plants to be outdoors by gradually increasing their time spent outside before setting them in the ground in the Spring.
What are you starting with seed this year? What are your sure fire methods and varieties to plant?