By Larry Hodgson
Usually, you’ll be sowing the seeds of your vegetables, herbs and annuals in the spring, either indoors a few weeks before transplanting, or in the ground. For appropriate sowing dates, see When to Sow Over 80 Vegetables and Herbs or Sowing Calendar for Annual Flowers.
But before sowing any seeds indoors, you might want to check and make sure that you already have all the necessary equipment at your fingertips.
Here’s what you should have on hand:
- Containers (pots, cell packs, etc.)
- Biodegradable pots (for some seedlings only)
- Transparent domes (mini greenhouses)
- Potting soil, preferably containing mycorrhizae (beneficial fungi)
- Bucket or large bowl
- Pencil or pen with indelible anti-UV ink
- Tools (spoon, fork, knife, scissors)
- Small block of wood to press the soil
- Spray bottle
- Watering can
- Impermeable cloth to protect work surface
You can, of course, buy all these products, but then you’ll end up paying top dollar. If you look carefully at the list, you’ll realize almost all of these tools can be found either in the kitchen (spoon, scissors, knife, etc.), in the workshop or laundry room (spray bottle) or in the office (pencil or marker), while you can obtain most containers (pots, domes, trays, etc.) by recycling everyday products … and who doesn’t own a watering can?
The one product you really do have to buy besides the seeds is the soil you’ll start the seedlings in. You can look specifically for seed starting mix, but plain potting soil works just as well. (With many brands of soil, the only difference between the two is the label!)
Note that there is no real saving to be made in assembling your own seed starting mix. In fact, the cost of the ingredients (peat or coir, perlite, lime, etc.) is usually higher than that of the commercially prepared product.
A good potting soil is one of the only expenses you will have to make, other than buying new varieties of seeds. You can save money elsewhere, but you shouldn’t skimp on soil quality!
And more specifically, never use soil taken from the garden in preparing soil for seedlings! Most garden soils compact terribly in pots (not a good thing for young plants!), plus you risk introducing diseases and unwanted pests: never a good thing!
Seed sowing season is coming soon. Now you know what you need to be ready!
Ill.: by Claire Tournigny, from the book Jardinier sans se ruiner by Larry Hodgson.