At this time of year many people are starting seeds for the new gardening season. And there has always been a decision on whether to start your own seedling for the garden or to buy transplants.
photo credit: Maria Keays
There are three answers to that question. One is the experience you have in starting seeds. Do you have the right soil, lighting and know where to look for information on how to grow strong healthy plants.
The second is cost of starting seeds verses buying plants. You will need seeds, soil, and containers for your seedlings. There is also adequate lighting, space for plants and possibly a cold frame or greenhouse for storing and protecting plants. Do these costs balance the costs or buying transplants in the spring?
And the last is plant variety and plant health. This is usually the reason I start seeds. There are varieties of vegetables and flowers that are not available in my area. I like heirloom plants and they are not as popular and many plant varieties are impossible to find.
You also do not know how the plants were handled before you buy them. If they sat in a cold climate they may have suffered plant shock and will not be as healthy or produce flowers or blossoms well. They also may have suffered from lack of water or have insect infestation. Bringing an unhealthy plant to your garden could set back your harvesting and may even hurt your other plants.
The decision on starting seedlings will be based on the answers to these questions.
- If you decide to start seeds, follow the directions on the back of the seed pack and ask questions. The Internet has almost any solution you need and remember you favorite garden center. They will be more than willing to help.
With that said, here is one of my quick tips for starting seeds. I use this method with seeds that germinate slow or need a warmer climate for germination. and for my shrub seeds. This week I am starting Rose of Sharon Shrubs and they flourish using this method. All my shrub seeds do better with the Milk Jug Hot House
Milk Jug Hot House
The milk jug hot house works well for slow starting seeds and is a great project for children for any seedling.
Rinse out a clear plastic milk jug with hot water and dish soap. Make sure it is very clean. It may not hurt to rinse it out with vinegar and to let it totally dry. Using a knife or sharp scissors, carefully cut the jug in half. Fill the bottom half of the jug with three or four inches of good quality potting mix. Plant your seeds and water gently – you do not want to over water the seeds and soil. A very light mixture of water and liquid fertilizer will also help the seeds germinate quicker. Close the jug by placing the top back on and taping it into place with clear tape.
Place in a sunny place. The jug will create its own mini hothouse effect and take care of itself. Watering will not be necessary. The seedling will be healthy and strong in two to four weeks, depending on the seed variety. When the plants look crowded, you can transplant they into their own pots. I often use homemade newspaper pots at this time so that I can place the plant into the ground in a few weeks and not disturb the root.
You can also use clear plastic pop bottles instead of milk jugs.
Starting seeds can be a fun project and will save you money but you need to ask questions to ensure a healthy plant crop.