Starting Seeds – Better Late Than Never

Seeding Tomatoes

Were I growing vegetables for money, I’d make sure I got my seeds started on a very specific schedule.  But as a casual home gardener, I don’t have to worry much about getting everything exactly right.  I’m just getting most of my seeds started now, and by the rules, some are a little late.  That doesn’t bother me a lot.  I’ve learned that you have a lot of latitude in growing your own food, and most of the “rules” are only guidelines, not commandments.

I should have had my peppers, brassicas. celery, and a lot of other crops started around March 15th.  But I know from past experience that I can still have excellent output starting these crops as late as May 1st, and I probably could even cheat on that date.

I’ve been using 5 ounce Dixie cups as my favorite seed starting container for quite a few years.  I like them because they are large enough to handle most any seed and they are biodegradable.  I just toss them onto the compost pile after I’ve emptied them out.  In the last couple years I’ve also switched from concocting my own potting soils to just using commercially prepared mixes.  It’s so much easier and the results for me have been so much better than what I was getting with my home made formulas.  And by results, I mean healthy and heavy root sets.

Seeds in Cups

Seeds in Cups

The Dixie cups are not very stable so to keep them from tipping over I put them into a flat lined with newspapers.  The picture here shows seeded cups on trays ready to be moved to flats.  From here they will go to the basement for some bottom heat and grow lights.  I talk more about the cups in flats here.

The big advantage of starting your own seeds is cost.  You can purchase a hundred seeds for what one plant would cost from a garden center or farm market.  But variety is a close second to cost.  I’m starting 27 different tomatoes, most of them heirlooms that would not be available to me otherwise.  And while I save a lot of seeds, I buy most of my seed from the small seed companies that are working hard to save the unusual, the historical, and the usually better tasting varieties than what mega-agriculture is trying to force on us.  The little seed companies are really the people that make gardening the most interesting for me.


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One Response to “Starting Seeds – Better Late Than Never”

  1. I heartily agree about small, local, seed companies. Thank you for the growing tips.