Modern Farmer Discussion started by Modern Farmer 1 year ago
If you don’t yet have your seeds or transplants, your next stop is to go to your local nursery to buy them. 

Yes, you certainly can buy these seeds and transplants online, but the advantage of buying them locally is that you’ll get access to the plant varieties that grow best in  your neighborhood. 

What’s more, your local greenhouse owner and staff are great sources of information – so feel free to ask your questions as well as ask for their recommendations.

TIP: If you already have seeds on hand from last year, just throw them away and start fresh. It’s much easier to start plants from fresh seeds.

Your next step is to wash out your pots and other containers using soap and water. This is especially true if you’re reusing any containers.  But again, do not reuse a container that you know carried a diseased plant.
Even if your containers are brand new, it still doesn’t hurt to wash them out. There may be little mites or fungus spores that you can’t see. Plus, washing out a terra cotta (clay) container is useful because it saturates the pot. This keeps the pot from absorbing the water away from the plant.
Your next step is to prepare the bottom of your pot or container. For starters, check the drainage holes to determine if your soil is going to dribble out the bottom. If so, you can put a coffee filter on the bottom of the container. This filter let the water drain while keeping the soil in your container.
If you have a deep container, then you can fill the bottom of the container with something other than your growing medium.  Doing so will help you save money, since you don’t need to fill the container completely with an expensive soil-less mix. Instead, you can lay down a layer of something like packing peanuts on the bottom of your container, which allows for good drainage.
Your final preparation step is to add water to your growing medium. If you purchased a bag, you can add water right into the bag. You want the soil to be damp and moist, but not dripping.

Now you’re ready to plant your seeds or transplant your starts, depending on what you purchased. Let’s look at these processes separately…

Transplanting Starts
If you purchased seedlings (starts) from the nursery, then gently remove the start from the pot it came in. Be very careful at this stage, because you don’t want to damage the plant.  Don’t use a trowel to “dig” the plant out of the pot, as you’re likely to stab and damage the roots.
Instead, hold the plant in one hand while turning the pot over. Then you can separate the plant from the container without disturbing the roots by gently squeezing the container.
Take a moment to examine the roots.  If they’re all bound up together, gently straighten them out using your fingers.  If you don’t take this extra step, the plant roots may not grow deep – and this will affect the health of your plant.
If everything looks ok, then you can transplant the start into your container.  For best results, transplant it at the exact depth it was planted originally. For example: if the root ball was two inches below the soil level in the original container, then make sure it’s two inches below the soil level in the new container.
Since you’ve already “pre-watered” the soil or soil-less mix, you shouldn’t need to water it again.

However, if your growing medium doesn’t include fertilizer, then be sure to add a little liquid fertilizer or compost tea.
Planting Seeds
The way you plant your seeds depends on what you’re planting.  Be sure to read the seed packet, because you should find the exact instructions on the label. Nonetheless, here are two general guidelines:
How deep should you plant the seeds? A general rule of thumb is to plant seeds from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch deep. But again, this depends on the seeds, so read the label. 
How many seeds should you plant?  Your general guideline here is to plant more than you need.  For starters, not every seed will germinate. And secondly, not every plant that comes up will be healthy and strong. Thus you can watch your new plants for a few weeks to see which ones are healthiest. Then you can literally weed out the weakest plants.
For example, if you’re aiming for two plants in a particular container, you may plant double or even triple the number of seeds. If they all come up, then you can weed out the weakest plants, leaving the two strongest, healthiest starts.
Again, if you started by pre-moistening your growing medium, then you don’t need to water your seeds.  You may add a liquid fertilizer to the mix if the mix doesn’t include fertilizer.

Finally, if you have any of your soil or soil-less mix left over, be sure to tie the bag up tight to keep it free of pests. Alternatively, you can put it in a clean container with a tight lid, like a five-gallon bucket.