Seed starting basics
If you are new to gardening, or just need a refresher, here are some basic seed starting tips!
The two most common ways to start seeds are by direct sowing and starting seeds indoors (in your home or a greenhouse). Starting seeds indoors requires more equipment and space but this can allow you to get a head start on your plants. Direct sowing only requires soil and a seed.
Materials: Soil, water, and seed
Seed packs will have instructions on how deep to plant and how far to space your seeds. These are general guidelines for best performance. Consistent moisture is important to encourage germination.
Sowing Indoors for Transplant:
Materials required: Soil designed for seed starting, seedling trays (can be DIY), heat source, light source, a way to ensure air circulation such as a small fan, water, and seeds.
Fill your seed starting trays with moist soil. You know that the moisture level is right if you squeeze a handful of soil and it feels like a moist sponge. After seeds have been sown according to your seed pack instructions, the seedling tray will need to be covered to retain humidity until seeds have germinated. During this time you will also want your seeds on a heat mat or some other heat source to encourage germination.
When 75% of the seeds in your tray have germinated, remove them from the heat source and apply a light source. This can be a grow light, sunny window, or in a space outdoors that is not in direct bright sunlight.
When watering seedlings, it is important not to over/under water. Soil should be damp but not soggy. Watering from the bottom of the tray is best to prevent disease on your seedlings. When the seedlings have 3-4 true leaves, they are ready to be hardened off (slowly transitioned to outdoor conditions) and transplanted outdoors if you are outside of your frost window.
Basic seedling care
When starting seeds indoors or in greenhouse for transplanting later to your garden, these are basic tips that can help ensure success!
Succession planting is a method of planting vegetables, herbs, and flowers that will increase crop availability throughout the growing season. By making efficient use of space and timing you can ensure near continual harvesting of your favorite garden goodies. Some rapid growing vegetables like baby leafy greens and radishes can be succession planted every 7 days. Other vegetables with longer days to maturity such as cucumbers and melons can be direct sown every 21 days.
Some of the plants more amenable to succession planting are listed below:
Gardening calendar for zone 7
These are general recommendations based on Zone 7 gardening. Many seeds can be planted over a few weeks or months. What is listed here is the earliest recommended time to plant. For most seeds and transplants you can plant later than noted below. If a plant is listed more than once that means you can grow these twice in one year! It is recommended to direct sow seeds into your garden unless otherwise noted.
Onion (from seed)
*If you have seeds that need to be cold stratified, now is the time to stratify*
Collard greens (transplants)
**start tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds indoors**
Field peas/southern peas
Spring bulbs and corms