Saturday, January 14, 2012

Planting Seeds

January is the time to start planting seeds indoors for my area. I start out planting with the cold weather crops. The first plants to go in my garden will be onions around the time that we plant potatoes which is St. Patrick's Day.   So I am planting onions now so that my onions will have around 8 weeks to grow before they will be set out.  For these small seeded vegetables I like an organic seed starting mix.                                                                      

First I place the soil in a large dishpan and put it in my big laundry sink. I add just enough warm water to moisten the mix but not to make it soupy. 

Then I add the soil to my flats. I have had these flats for many years. I wash them out at the end of the growing season with a little bleach and water solution then store them until the next year. As long as they stay out of direct sunlight they will last for many years. These have 72 compartments each. Using these flats each shelf will hold 288 plants. Or 864 plants total which is more than I will ever need.  
In the past I have also used solo cups with small holes melted in the bottom with a hot nail or even yogurt cups. 
I have even made pots from recycled newspapers. 
If using flats I always leave one celpak open in the corner. This is for watering. This way I water through this one opening so that the plants absorb water from the bottom of the flat and I can see how much water is down there. 

The other things  I use are a pencil, a white saucer, small craft sticks and a fine point permanent marker.  

Today I am planting Australian Brown Onion from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds here in Missouri. 
Green Bunching Onions and also my Laura Bush Petunias from Johnny's Wild Seeds.

The white saucer is for the seeds. White so that I can see them and a saucer so that I can pick them up easily. 

A pencil to use as a dibble to make a small impression in each compartment or celpak for the seeds. It's simple to make a shallow depression in the soil and place two seeds in it. Put on some nice relaxing music  and settle in for awhile. Once all are planted make sure that the seeds are covered but not too much. These little seeds don't need much soil on top. the soil is already moist so no watering is needed. 

Write the name of the crop on the small craft stick and the date on the other side. Make sure your marker is permanent. Don't have craft sticks then try cutting up tags from old plastic milk jugs or bleach bottles.

The great thing about the small craft sticks is that the clear covers will fit over them.

Then my seed trays are placed under the lights.  You want the light within just a few inches of the top of the cover at first. Keep your lights always as close to your plants as possible without touching.

My seed rack is homemade and has 3 shelves. It sits by my freezer in the laundry room so that I have never needed heat under my seeds. It seems that the small amount of heat generated by the freezer seems to be more that sufficient to keep my seeds nice and toasty. Very rarely do I have a problem with something not coming up.I keep atleast 10 hours of light on my plants a day.
The rack is on wheels so that it can be easily moved allowing access to the freezer. 
Each shelf has it's own light switch so that I can run 1 shelf or three depending on my needs. Each shelf holds 4 black seed trays. 
Each light can be raised or lowered as the seedlings grow.

Once you start seeing these small green threads your onions are up and it is time to remove the clear lids. Keep your lights as close as possible to your plant top helps to prevent spindly plants. When these are about 4 inches tall I will move them to the cold frame. 

Once in the cold frame they are hardened off for the garden. 

Every gardener has their own way of starting seeds and this seems to be what works for me.   

How do you start your seeds?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. Thanks for all the tips and directions, CQ. :)
    I will have to look up cold frames. While I understand what they are, I don't know a lot about them.
    Good luck! Look forward to seeing your seed sprouts. :)

  2. We are a few months away from starting our seeds here.

    Awesome seed rack, will have to plant a seed with hubby to see if he will help me build one.

    Thanks for the inspiration and know how.

    Blessings, Mel

  3. Every thing looks great and I love your seed growing idea's wish I had the room for it..

  4. Wow! I love your set up! I showed it to Hubby and he said he'll build something like that for me! Yay!!

  5. I love your homemade seed light rack. I've been talking to my husband about building one of those. Thanks for the idea. Could you provide more ideas about supplies?

  6. I need to start seeds here too! Mainly the onions, but I am sure I will be starting tomatoes pretty soon as well. I love your set up!

  7. You are on top of it starting seeds already! I need to do this soon....I loved the tutorial!

  8. Thanks for all the tips, love your set up!

  9. I do it similar to you but no music or relaxing when a 7, 6, & 4 year old want to "help" LOL And no grow lights when you live on solar power :-/ But my sliding glass door seems to do the trick just fine until we can get them out to the cold frame :-)

    1. Having raised 5 children I had to laugh and remember those years..and If I had a place that got enough lights i would forego the grow lights but since I am underground that is an issue for me : )

    2. Yes, this is our second "batch". The first 3 liked to help too :-) But hey, they're only small once! Your grow lights look awesome! I'm just glad I've been able to make the sliding glass door work. Hubby would have a fit if I had to have them. It's bad enough to have to have a light for the little chicks whenever they arrive LOL


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