Starting Seeds for Your Garden

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Rhubarb emerging in food forest

 

Early spring is a wonderful time to get out and start peering deeply into your gardens; the longer you look the more you will find.  Some of your plants have re-seeded themselves, like in our food forest gardens at CGC which has tiny purple orach seedlings sprouting.

You will also discover plants that have over wintered that are now re-growing again from their underground hiding places.  Our food forest garden has rhubard poking up, as well as angelica, perennial leek, sweet cicely, chives, garlic, poppies, lupin, and comphrey.

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Columbine emerging

 

However, at first glance you may not notice any of these emerging plants, you really need to look closely and spend some time exploring.  It is so much fun to be witness to plants reforming after their winter ‘hibernation’.  Once you are reminded of what you already have in your garden and how much space their is for more plants, then one might start to think about sowing seeds.  In fact, we highly recommend this activity as it is so amazing to watch how plants grow, it brings a person so much joy and so much healthy local food.

 

IMG_4097Selecting which edible plants to grow is like preparing a grocery shopping list.  Choose vegetables and herbs that you love and want to eat.  It is also good to try a few new ones you’ve never tried before in order to help keep a great diversity of plants to feed yourself with.  You can also try to choose to grow plants that would be expensive to buy in the store.

Read the seeding times carefully if you want to try to ensure that the temperature and light conditions match your seeds needs.  Several hot season plants won’t germinate if the temperature is too low.  It helps to start to learn which plants grow better in the cooler part of the growing season and which grow better when its super hot.  For example, peas, lettuce, kale, carrot and spinach are cooler season plants.  Meanwhile, eggplant, tomato, squash, pepper, and okra are hotter season plants.  Seeding charts make this process much easier, you can check your month to your plant and the chart will suggest when its best to seed.

IMG_4115Seeding depth is important aswell.  Some seeds, like dill, need more light than others, so you don’t bury them.  But most seeds can be seeded about 2 times the depth of the size of the seed.

When watering your seeds, be careful not to let them dry out.  On the other end of the scale, it is possible to over water and rot the seeds.  Stick your fingers down the edges of the seed trays and feel the soil, it should feel moist.  Sometimes people can be tricked if a crust forms on top of the seeded area.  Above the crust looks wet, but under the crust, where the seed is, it could be dry.

March is a great time to start some herbs and vegetables indoors on your window sill or cold frame or greenhouse.  Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, fennel, leeks, lettuce, sweet onion, parsley, chives, lovage, mint, oregano, sage, thyme, and summer savory can all be starting indoors in March.  It is good to start thinking about plants that need a long growing season such as leeks and parsnips, early in the season so they have enough time to grow.

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Purple orach seedlings

If you are worried that your seeds haven’t germinated, check the number of days to germination.  Some seeds take much longer than others such as parsley which can take up to 21 days.  However, if the temperature, light, and water are ideal most seeds should germinate within a week, and some even in 2 days!  Some seeds last in storage longer than others, so check seed packet dates.  One trick to test seed viability is to soak a few seeds and wrap them in paper towel and check them for growth.

Happy Gardening!

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Ceres Edible Landscaping wants to help you grow food and maintain your garden as a healthy and ecologically diverse ecosystem. We provide garden consultations, design, installation and organic maintenance services from a permaculture perspective. Call Nora for an appointment to plan your spring garden: 250.748.8506.

 

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