Do you have all your seeds for this year's growing season? There's still time to order!
The process of ordering through seed catalogs can be daunting, but it also provides many advantages, such as being able to choose seeds based on how they are grown and how they are treated. Here at my Bedford, New York farm, we sow thousands of seeds each year. Starting from seed isn’t difficult. They can be planted closely together in seed starting trays, and then pulled apart easily when ready for transplanting outdoors. This season, some of the seeds we're growing are from Botanical Interests, a family owned Colorado seed company that offers more than 500-varieties of vegetable, flower and herb seeds, including many organic and heirloom varieties.
Here are some photos - enjoy…
Curtis Jones and his wife Judy Seaborn started Botanical Interests because they believed gardeners needed more information from seed packets. They wanted to create unique seed packets filled with facts, tips, recipes and quality seeds.
Each Botanical Interests seed packet includes a beautiful illustration of the plant, a description of its flowers, and specific blooming details. There is also a lot of information printed on the inside of the packet.
Seed trays come in all different sizes. The containers should be at least two-inches deep and have adequate drainage holes. When possible, prepare several trays in an assembly-line fashion to save time.
When seeding, use a formula mix that is specially made for starting seeds. A good seed starting medium will have perlite, vermiculite, and a large percentage of peat moss.
For these seeds, Ryan used Sunshine® Advanced Mix #4, which is great for indoor growing. The myco-active mix retains moisture while providing improved root aeration and drainage.
Seedling mixes are also available at garden centers. General seedling mixes are great for root growth. They also contain organic wetting agents to ensure uniform water penetration.
3B growing mixes promote flowering and fruiting. 3B can be used for a wide variety of crop plants grown in many container sizes from cell flats to larger pots.
Metro-Mix soilless media consists of a variety of compost-based and bark-based mixes suited for crops in containers of all sizes.
Mix-PX1 is an all-purpose mix with composted peanut hulls. The well-drained mix is suitable for growing a variety of crops in smaller containers ranging in size from cell packs to hanging baskets.
Peat moss is dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in peat bogs. This is used as a soil conditioner which increases the soil’s capacity to hold water and nutrients. It’s great with very sandy soil, or for plants that need increased or steady moisture content to flourish.
The first thing Ryan does is organize the seeds to determine which ones he needs to plant now, and which ones need to wait.
On each marker, Ryan writes the seed variety, so he’s ready to place it in the trays after planting the seeds. It’s also helpful to put the date of planting on the back. When ordering seeds, be sure to read the hardiness of a plant first – it will say in the seed catalog. And, know your hardiness zone, so you can select the right seeds for your area. Here in Bedford, we are zone-5.
Using a finger or the end of a closed thick marker pen, make a hole in each cell.
This China Aster Blend contains an old-fashioned selection of single-flowered China asters in red, pink, purple, and white. They grow best near the back of the flowerbed for a mid-summer showing. They make fabulous, long-lasting cut flowers.
Some seeds are very small – be very careful when pouring them out of the packet.
Seeds are usually started about two months before the last frost in the area. If you’re not sure, check online or ask garden center associates when the last frost usually occurs in your location. Here, Ryan drops one or two seeds into each cell.
Some trays have no dividers – these are for planting seeds closely together. Using a plant marker, create a half-inch deep furrow. If you don’t have a plant marker, use a thin ruler.
This is called Larkspur Galilee Blend. These flowers look best when grown in mass at the back of a border, or in a wildflower or naturalized garden. These attract bees and butterflies. It blooms from late spring to early summer, and in mild climates can continue through fall.
Ryan carefully pours the seeds into his hand.
And then drops the seeds along each furrow – evenly about a quarter-inch apart.
I am very fortunate to have a lot of space to plant many different seeds indoors during winter. All these trays will be kept in my temperature controlled greenhouse. Seedlings also require a considerable amount of light, so make sure they are kept in a sunny, south-facing window.
After dropping the seeds into the tray cells, cover them with a light layer of mix. The rule of thumb is to use the amount equal to the diameter of a seed. Once they germinate and grow too big for the trays, transfer into larger pots and then finally into the garden.
Botanical Interests Recycled Paper Pots are an eco-friendly way to grow seedlings. They come in two sizes. They’re perfect for plants that don’t like root disturbance. These are made from 100-percent recycled, food-grade paperboard.
Ryan opens the smaller one-and-a-half-inch pots.
Fill each miniature pot with soil, and sow your seed. There is even a place on each container to note the variety and date sown.
Ryan is planting Texas Bluebonnet, also called Old Maid’s Bonnet and Wild Lupine. These are native to the eastern half of the U.S. and can be grown in any well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil.
Ryan created an appropriate marker – these markers are very important, especially at this stage of planting.
Ryan makes the quarter-inch deep holes in each pot.
And drops the seed – so easy.
It’s always a good idea to keep a record of when seeds are sown, when they germinate, and when they are transplanted. These observations will help organize a schedule for the following year.
Ryan places these trays into our Urban Cultivator growing system – it has water, temperature and humidity all set-up in this refrigerator like unit. http://www.urbancultivator.net
If you haven’t already, I hope I inspired you to start looking through your seed catalogs and to order your garden seeds for the season.
Thanks, Ryan, and thanks to Botanical Interests – now back to seeding.