Growing your own vegetable is not only a great and sustainable way to provide fresh and nutritious food for your family, but also may help save you money and provide a great activity for everyone in the family. We have outlined a simple step by step process in starting your vegetable garden from seed.
What You Need
Seeding tray with humidity dome or recycled/ used large salad plastic container
Seed Starting Medium ( I prefer Coco Coir)
Popsicle Stick or Planting Label
Grow Light or a Sunny Window
Here are the Simple Steps
Pick your seeds. I love growing vegetables that I eat a lot of and are best eaten raw. For instance, kale and lettuce are always great to have for my morning smoothie or to prepare a quick salad for lunch. I also love growing veggies that can be stored, frozen, or pickled for later use. Every seed has slightly different suggestion on when to sow directly outdoors or when to start indoors. Read the seed packets for any specific instruction and know your planting zone to determine when the right time to start your seeds indoors and when to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
Fill your seeding tray with soil. For years, I have used 100% Coco Coir or a mix of 1/3 compost and 2/3 coconut coir. In my own experience, I’ve had close to 80% germination rate with either of this medium. I typically use the light coco coir for very small seeds like lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. And I use the mixed medium for bigger seeds of beans, peas, watermelon, or cucumber. You can also buy ready made seed starter soil at your local nursery. I like starting with a dry medium but I also know a lot of growers who moisten their soil first before filling the seeding tray. This can be totally up to you.
Put the seed on top of the soil. Make an indentation of about 1/2 to 1 inch for medium to large seeds depending on packet recommendation. Vegetables such us peas, different bean varieties, watermelon 🍉, cucumber 🥒, squash, melon 🍈, etc have large seeds that is very easy to sow. I generally put 1 to 2 seeds per cell to ensure I have a have at least 1 growing seedling per cell. For small seeds, just simply place it on top surface of the growing medium. Among those that generally have small seeds such as most herbs, lettuce 🥬 , broccoli, kale, onion, peppers 🌶 , cabbage, etc., I would generally put 1 to 3 seeds per cell and about 3 to 5 for herbs like basil, thyme, and cilantro because I like growing them in cluster.
Gently cover seeds with your seed starting growing medium. Most seed packets provide information on how deep you should cover your seed. If you don’t have this information, we follow this basic principle: Seeds should be planted at a depth of at least 2 times its depth or width. For instance, larger seeds of beans up to 1/2 inch in diameter, will do really well under an inch of soil. For small seeds, I gently sprinkle soil on top which just barely cover them. Don’t compress the soil atop the seeds as you plant them, they should be firm but not compacted.
Water with a Sprayer using gentle stream setting until the soil is moderately moist. Next create a label using popsicle stick or recycled plant labels. Write the following information on the label: Name of plant variety and date sown. Cover with humidity dome if you have one or create a tent with 4 popsicle sticks in each corner and hang a plastic cover on top to maintain humidity. Humidity helps facilitates seed germination. Check your seed to make sure that your soil doesn’t dry up. Some people use heating mat placed under the seed tray to facilitate seed germination. If you have baseboard or floor heating, simply put your seed tray on a table positioned on top of the heater register. The warm air that rises should warm your seed tray. Some seed like Lavender seeds may require light to germinate. So always check your seed packet instruction.
Remove the humidity dome once your seedling emerge. If you are using a heating mat, now is the time to remove that also. Place your seedling directly under a grow light or by a sunny ☀️ window. I typically put the grow light about 3 to 4 inches above the seedlings. The distance will vary depending on the type of grow light that you are using. Providing adequate amount of light to seedling ensures a healthy, strong, and compact growth. Set a grow light timer for 15 to 18 hours as seedling require more light than grown plants. If your seedlings are becoming very tall and spindly, it means that they are not getting adequate amount of light. Water your seedlings regularly but do not over saturate the soil and cause root rot.
Care for your seedling until it’s ready to be planted outdoors by watering regularly and giving adequate amount of light. Happy Growing!