Sunday, March 17, 2013

Seed Starting

Seed Starting DIY

As we transition to Spring here at The Shire, we can finally start seeds indoors. Last week we seeded a few flats of onions, leeks, and green onions. Soon we'll be starting kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach.

I've tried starting seeds with other methods, but I've found that making seed blocks removes the need to use plastic pots for most of your seed starting needs. Excepting things that spend a longer time indoors, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant of course. But for most of the crops gardeners start inside to get a head start on their season won't outgrow their seed block before you transplant them. The key is to thoroughly wet your growing medium, compress the soil to create firm blocks that will hold their space, and water lightly and evenly to keep the blocks intact. 

Here's a simple DIY guide to starting your own seeds indoors.

You'll need:

-11"x22" seeding flats
-preferred seed starting soil medium
-Johnny Seeds 4" Seed Blocker 
-A tub to mix soil and water in
-Light (natural light in a greenhouse, or growing lights with florescent or natural lightbulbs)
-Duct Tape
-Black Sharpe marker

For starting seeds indoors, I like to use a seed blocker from You can usually get it for $25.00, and its worth the investment, considering it eliminates most of the costs for pots and containers.

The 4 Soil Bocker makes 2" square blocks

Soil blocks are compressed soil made into blocks with holes for the seeds.

Fill your soil blocker with your preferred seed starting medium, wet thoroughly first.

Compress and fill again a few times, usually two or three times.

Fill a 11"x22" plastic growing flat with your soil blocks. This will give you 50 soil blocks per flat.

The blocks should be pretty solid, like 2"x2" brownies. Fill the holes with your seeds, and cover with some wet soil.
We like to seed every hole with 2-3 seeds, after the old adage "One for the bird, one for the bug, one for the farmer." 

For an easy way to keep track, label your flats. On a roll of duct tape, write the plant type, variety, and seeding date. Tear this off and attach to the corresponding flat, on its side. If you're doing multiple varieties or crops per flat, you can write this info on Popsicle sticks and place where that variety starts. 

Place these flats under your desired light source, and keep moist and above the recommended temperature for the specific seeds you are starting.

Wait and watch, and soon you'll see some sprouting seedlings! 


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