Well I'm finally posting about my seed starting efforts.
It's going to be a long one folks!
Lots of pictures.
Here we go.... (And keep in mind... this is how I start my seed... It's not necessarily the right way, just what works for me.)
First... a peek at which seeds I've started.
This shelf will now hold all my new seedlings.
What's this?... Soil behind my chair?? Well it is a good out of the way place to thaw.( I store it outside the rest of the year.)
Now let's get things moving!!
I saved these cell packs from last year. They will need to be disinfected.
A good scrub is the best way to start. If you are washing a bunch of pots they can go in a sinkful of water.
If you don't have any used pots new ones can be bought. They do not require cleaning. ( I'm always so excited when I get to buy new ones!)
Anything used before must also be bleached. I'm not always picky about doing things perfectly so I just add a couple of capfuls to a sink of water and let the pots soak for a bit before I leave them to air dry. This is usually done before planting day.
Now for the fun part! Fill your tray (or big bowl etc.) with potting soil. I like to use soil specifically for starting seeds but you can use whatever is available as long as it is soilless mix.
Fill your pot.
Tamp down so that the soil is packed in firmly
Sprinkle in seed. Unless the seed I'm using is very expensive, I put two per cell so that I am most likely to have germination in every cell. If seed is expensive you can sow it thinly in one large shallow pot and prick them out once they have all come up and are big enough to transplant. We'll save that for another time. I don't do this often as I find that I'm usually too busy to actually do it once it's time for transplanting. I have lost entire plantings this way!
If your seed requires darkness to germinate ( that information is found on the back of the seed package), sprinkle a light layer of soil on it and press down firmly.
An important step is labeling. Label each pot individually. You think you will remember, but there will come a time, when the pots have been moved around, that you will look at the pot, scratch you head and say " Now what was in here?"
Make sure all the information is on the tag.
I always water from the bottom. I put my pots in a tray like this and add warm water. Once you can see that the soil is wet at the top, remove the pots to a dry tray. I let them sit overnight and then cover them with a clear plastic dome. The dome helps to keep moisture in.
Here's a handy germination aid. The heat mat. If your seed requires warm tempertures to germinate (check the seed package), bottom heat helps to speed things along. You used to be able to put it on top of the fridge because it would be nice and warm there, but, that doesn't work with most fridges today. I purchased this from Lee Valley Tools. Check out their garden stuff here: http://www.leevalley.com/garden/index.aspx?c=1
Plants who need warmth and light go here on my plant stand.
This batch of seed requires cool tempertures and light to germinate so they have gone downstairs where it's much cooler.
Oh... What's this??? Seedlings! And after just a few days... My dianthus seed, which I saved from the garden last fall, is the first to come up.