I've dabbled in gardening pretty much my entire life, but it wasn't until about four years ago that I got serious about gardening. That change came about when we decided we wanted to live a more self sufficient lifestyle.
The garden can provide a bounty of food for your family in the summer, and through the winter if you freeze or can your summer abundance. Gardening can be done for very little money. The cost comes in your own labor. For me it is a labor of love.
Our garden season is almost here, and I couldn't be more thrilled. We have been making plans and preparing for the planting season. One preparation is to start seeds indoors. This is a relatively new gardening activity for me. Buying plants adds greatly to the cost of the garden. Seeds are cheap. So, last year we turned an old bath tub in to a seed nursery.
But you don't need that much space to start seeds indoors. All seeds need to grow is a dirt, light, and water. A sunny window will often do the trick.
If you have composted dirt, this is perfect for starting your seeds. Potting soil will work just fine too. There are a lot of different containers that you can use. Last year I saved containers from plants I bought. I am using those and some repurposed yogurt tubs with a couple holes punched in the bottom. I used toilet paper tubes last year, but was not real thrilled with them. About any small container will work. Just be sure that there are drainage holes in the container.
I usually make a small hole in the dirt with the sharpened tip of a pencil. Place two seeds in each hole. And cover with dirt again.
The best way to water your newly planted seeds and seedlings is to give them a good soaking from the roots up. I like to fill the tub with an inch or two of water, and place the containers right into the water. Let them sit there until the dirt is good and saturated.
Place the containers in a well lit and warm place. A sunny window will often do the trick. A simple fluorescent light placed a few inches above the containers will also work.
When they start to get their true leaves, it is time to thin them out. We plant two seeds in each space, just in case one seed does not germinate, but if they both did germinate one of them has to go. Simply snip the weaker seedling at the dirt level, or you can pull it out.
Continue to keep the plants warm, water when the soil feels dry, and give them light for 12-14 hours a day. If you are using artificial light, a garden timer is a convenient way to control the light. When it is time to plant out side, you need to harden the plants off first. That simply means to put them outside a little more each day to get them used to the outside conditions before you plant them there.
The plants that I have started indoors have not looked as big or lush as the ones I see in the store. Last year we planted home grown plants and store purchased ones. Based on last year, the home grown ones soon caught up and performed as well or better than the ones that came from the store. The plants started from seed only cost a fraction of the plants purchased in the store.
Starting seeds indoors is not difficult, and does not take much time either. Gardening from seed is also a step toward self sufficiency. Saving our own seeds from one season to start most of our plants the next season is my goal. It can save you a lot of money, but I have to admit my favorite part is that it relieves a little of my cabin fever. It does me good to play in the dirt a little and watch things grow.