I like things simple. I can't do complicated, or it stresses me out because I am a perfectionist.
If I can't do it perfectly, I'd rather just throw in the towel. When I planted my garden last year, I used quite a few store-bought seedlings. It was my first year of gardening and I wanted to keep things as easy as possible on myself. At the end of last year, I loved gardening so much that I told myself I'd go all in the following spring. And that's what I'm attempting this year. I tried to read up on planting indoors, but it all seemed too complicated. Soil mixtures and heat lamps and what? It was all too confusing.
So, I simplified it. Here's what I did:
1. I used store-bought potting soil.
See that snow on the ground? I don't want to talk about it. I didn't plan to buy organic potting soil, but that's what Costco had, so that is what I purchased. It was about $10.
2. I gathered a bunch of containers.
I saved all the containers from the seedlings I'd purchased last spring. One article I read said to wash them in warm soapy water and let them air dry. I did no such thing. Dirt is dirt, yes?
3. I added water to the dirt, just enough to make it moist.
I used my big popcorn bowl to mix the dirt in. Potting soil is sterile, and therefore mixing it in the dishes you use for food will not make you sick. But it will make your husband question your sanity. And his next meal, if you're the one to make it.
4. I filled the containers.
I didn't pack it in tight, just loosely shoved it in there. If you don't have any little pots, you can always use yogurt or sour cream containers with holes poked in the bottom for draining. Seed-starting pots are also available at the dollar store, which I am a big fan of, because I am
5. I planted my seeds, and loosely covered them with soil.
The rule of thumb is to plant a seed at a depth of twice its diameter.
6. I labeled my container(s).
It would be awkward to plant a bunch of seeds and have no idea what they were when they came up. Or, maybe that would be fun. Let me know if you choose to do so, but my OCD will not allow that. As well as labeling the container, I put the seed pouch beside the pot so that I could check it if I needed to.
7. I covered the container(s) with plastic wrap.
You could also use a plastic dome or a plastic bag. Because the soil is pre-moistened, it will not have to be watered right away. The plastic keeps the humidity high and the moisture in.
8. Find a light source.
There is barely any natural light in my house, and no south-facing windows. I get about an hour or two of direct sunlight on a good day. Most articles I read recommended a heat lamp of some sort, but I didn't bother with one. I put my little garden box on my bed in morning, and in the kitchen in evening. Both locations get as much sun as possible and are out-of-reach for the two two-year-olds who ransack my house daily.
9. Uncover when they sprout to give them some air.
If the little sprouts get too much moisture, they'll develop a fungus and die. So, as soon as you see them sprouting, the cover has done its job and can be removed.
10. Water when needed.
I use a spray bottle (seen above under #8), and only use it when I see a bit of dry dirt. I've been known to over-water, so I figured a spray bottle was my best bet to avoid killing all the little green things. One interesting thing I noticed is that all the little seedlings bow in the direction of the light source. I find this whole gardening thing completely fascinating, every little detail. It's miraculous, really, that such a tiny seed can, in a few months' time, produce so much fruit. If you're thinking of starting seeds indoors this year, it's not too late, especially with the spring we've been having. (Did I mention that it snowed today?) One resource I like is The Old Farmer's Almanac. That link will lead you to the Saskatoon page, but just input your city and click Search. Don't worry if you are a week or so late.
Gardening is not an exact science. I broke all the rules last year, and I plan to again this year, and things still seem to grow.
Do you buy seedlings or do you start your seeds indoors? Do you have any advice or tips to share that have given you great results in the past?