Startig seeds on sunny windowsill is an exciting and economical way to begin your garden. Quantities of plants ( such as perinnials ) that would otherwise be affordable. They can be started for pennies and exotic varieties of flowers. vegetables can make your garden glow.
In climates with short growing seasons. A great many plants need to be started indoors before the ground outside is frost-free. The cost of a packet of seed and planting materials will usually be less than buying a six-pack of young plants. What someone else has started, and will yield a far greater number of plants
For mass plantings i start perennials such as delphiniums, foxgloves, and lavender. Hard-to-find annuals like shungiku edible chrysanthemum, elephant-head amaranth, and heliotrope. And unusual and heirloom varieties of vegetables ribbed florentine tomatoes, flageolets, celeriac, and fennel. I also start a varieties of peppers, eggplants, onions, melons, and leaf lettuces for early harvesting.
Seeds can be germinated in egg cartons, milk or yogurt containers, wooden flats, or vommercially made planting containers. Plants do best when they are placed in a warm, sunny spot with few drafts.
Grow lights and root heaters are available from garden suppliers, but i find that the east and south facing windowsills near my woodstove do just as well
I use inexpensive ( and reusable ) three-part plastic planter trays. They consist of a series of cells for plnating and under-tray flat to set the planting cells in, and a clear plastic cover that fits over the whole to create a mini-greenhouse.
Using a soil-base seed-starting medium, i dump a portion of the medium into a large kitchen mixing bowl.
Add some warm water and mix it with a long wooden spoon. I want the soil to be well dampened and warm, but not sopping wet. It should compress when i squeeze a small handful, but not drip. When it is the right consistency i spoon it into each planting cell. Pushing it down gently with my finger to make there are no large air holes (although little air are good).
I uses tweezers to plant two seeds in each pot (i put in a second seed because few packets have 100 percent germination rates. If both seeds do germinate, i thin out the small plant). Make sure the soil cover is t three time the depth of the seed. (For a 1/8 inch seed, the cover should should be about 3/8 inch of soil). The great advantage of using a moistened soil medium is that there is no need to top-water the new seeds, which could redistribute them.
Because i plant a number of different seeds in various sections of each mini-greenhouse. I tape the empty packet to the outside of the under-tray flat, or make small paper labels. To tape on, noting the date variety, number, and location of seeds planted. (if the label were inside the cover, it would need to be waterproof.)
Seeds need varying amounts of growing time before transplanting. Onions are sown 12 to 14 weeks before the last frost-free date. Peppers and eggplants need 8 to 10 weeks.
Tomatoes grow for 6 to 8 weeks before they need transplanting. And lettuces, brassica, and melons need between 2 weeks of lead time new mini-greenhouse are panted y week and older ones are moved to new locations in the house, so that being close to the warm woodstove will help the youngest seeds to germinate. All of the flats are regularly turned in relation tothe light, to encourage the plants to grow straight.