If you’ve already selected seeds for your spring garden, you may be wondering what to do next.
The first step is to read the package carefully, since it will note if the seeds are best for direct sowing or starting indoors.
A lot of seeds are just fine to direct sow into the ground — these include radishes, carrots, beets, poppies and morning glories (to name just a few). You can also start seeds indoors, but it’s only advised for plants that don’t mind having their roots disturbed during transplanting.
A basic rule of thumb is to avoid direct sowing until all threat of frost has past. Weather information provided by organizations like the National Gardening Association can give you the expected date for the end of frost season in your area. I usually wait an additional week past that date just to be sure. You should definitely start seeds indoors 4-8 weeks before the last predicted frost date. If you’re confused, you can always ask me or Douglas another BakeSpace gardening expert for help.
Next, I use Peat moss, which is different from potting soil. This technique has led to a heated debate among gardeners over the past few years because harvesting Peat moss contributes to depletion of natural wetlands and is an unsustainable resource. Keep in mind that there are alternatives to Peat moss like composted leaves from the previous fall (ideal) or even commercial products with clever little names like RePeet.
Some folks prefer working with Peat moss because it helps retain moisture and aids seedlings as they grow. Seeds are very sensitive and don’t need all the extras ingredients and nutrients you find in potting soil. In fact, a seedling that sprouts in potting soil can quickly die from the overload on its delicate system. I find that Peat Moss works for my garden, but again there are alternatives.
You can buy a plain bag of moss with nothing added at any garden store, hardware store or discount center. You will also find Peat pots, which are a good option because they break down naturally in soil. If you start your seedlings in these pots, you can put them directly into the ground without disturbing the roots. This means there’s less chance of causing your plants shock when transplanting.
Using Peat moss: Try The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association’s Peatmoss.com – useful tips on working with Peat Moss -
Alternatives to Peat moss:
- Coconut Coir -a product that most resembles Peat moss comes from the fibrous husk of the coconut
- Grass Clippings – grass clippings are high in nitrogen and can be mixed into garden beds to prepare for planting. The University of Missouri has a fun article on grass clippings and mulch
- Compost – compost adds valuable nutrients and organic matter to your garden beds.
- Mulch – straw, newspaper, and sawdust can help to keep your garden beds from losing water through evaporation. Tip: Mulch plants after they are established in your garden beds.
What are your thoughts on sowing your seeds? We’d love to hear from you!