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How To Start Seeds

Starting seeds doesn't have to be a daunting task. If you look up seed starting, many times the information you find is either so complicated it will make your head spin, expensive or time consuming, or all three. Seed starting is actually pretty simple. If you take a look at how nature does it, you'll find that seeds really only need a few basic things to grow; nutrient rich, soft soil, sunlight, warmth and water, just like older plants do. For a revolutionary way to prepare your garden for planting, we invite you to check out the information on the "soil" page. For containers, regular old potting soil will do nicely.

Whether you're going to grow your plants in containers, raised beds or in the garden, it's usually best to sow the seeds directly into the soil where they'll be growing after danger of frost has passed. However, if you want to start seeds earlier in a greenhouse or indoors, the small decomposable pots are great because you don't have to disturb the roots by transplanting the plant when it's time. Keep in mind though, that you can start seeds successfully in a variety of containers from small plastic containers to egg cartons.

In the garden, planting at a depth that is about two times their diameter is sufficient. Rain water is always best for watering seeds and plants. Pour enough water around the seeds daily to keep the dirt moist. For containers, make sure there are holes in the bottom for drainage. You don't want to drown the plants! Since new seedlings are just beginning to grow and form roots, they can dry out quickly, especially in direct sunlight, so checking on them daily is especially important during this time. As long as the dirt feels moist to the back of your finger laid on it, you're good to go. Different plants take different amounts of time to sprout.

1. Large seeds, such as beans or tree seeds, can be soaked in a bowl of warm water overnight before planting them to hasten them to sprout.

Peppers and eggplants will take eight weeks to grow from seed to transplant size, while tomatoes will take six weeks. When the seedlings form their third set of true leaves, it's time to transplant them.

Thin plants when they are 2 to 3 inches tall to give the plants room to grow. Before settling them in the garden, harden-off transplants – place them in their containers outdoors in a sheltered place a few days ahead of planting them. Put down mulch between rows to control weeds.

If you began the seeds indoors and are transplanting them, make sure to place the transplants into the ground at the same level that they were growing in the containers inside. Also, it is not good to plant too deep because the roots will not be able to get enough air. If you are unsure how deep to plant seeds, check the seed packages for proper information. Once the seeds are planted, make sure to water the plants right away.