Making the decision to start your cut flower or vegetables from seeds rather than buying plugs or plants from your local nursery will save you an enormous amount of money on your 2021 season. Let's talk about how you do it!
Where to Order from and what to check before you do!
My favorite sources to go to when ordering my flower and vegetable seeds for the season are JohnnySeeds.com and HarrisSeeds.com . Both have excellent variety and decent prices especially if you're ordering in any kind of bulk. A couple of things worth considering when picking out your seeds for the season are whether or not they need to be started in seed trays (what this article is about) or if you can just directly sow them into your beds. Also make sure that your familiar with your outdoor growing area and what kind of sun you get there, your plant varieties will heavily depend on where you land on the full sun to shade spectrum.
Planting Early...but not too Early
You want to give your seedlings plenty of time to mature and fill out their plug trays, while at the same time not leaving them in too long so that they get root bound. Luckily your seed packet will have the ideal starting times where it will tell you the right time to plant depending on your last frost date.
Don't Forget to Thin!
A few weeks in, your seedlings are starting to put on their second set of true leaves and look crowded because more than one seed per cell has germinated. This means it's time to go in and choose the strongest from the pack, taking a sharp pair of scissors and cutting the rest off at their base. A strong seedling is defined by having a good set of leaves, isn't particularly taller or shorter from the rest of the seedlings and is as centered in the cell as possible.
Be Careful with Fertilizer
I know it's tempting but you have to be very careful with fertilizing your seedlings. Over fertilizing can burn the tender roots and foliage of seedlings. Optimally the best seedling fertilizer has a NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) ratio of 1-2-1.
Harden Off and Start Planting!
Finally it's time to get your beautiful little seedlings into the ground! In the week before planting out make sure that you get your seedlings outdoors every day for a few hours to get them acquainted to the harsher sun, wind and weather that the outdoors has to offer. On the day of planting water your seed trays well, plant them in their final spot and water them in. After that they've officially graduated from seedlings to independent little plants.