Spring inspires those of us with a green thumb to start gardening. Many vegetables and flowers can be started from seed indoors to give your garden an inexpensive head start on the growing season. Here are five quick tips for do-it-yourself gardening projects that you can start now to get your garden growing.
First, know your gardening zone. Understanding your gardening zone will help you understand when to plant seeds outdoors and when to start seeds and plants outdoors. Gardening zones tell a gardener when to expect their last frost in their area. Many seed companies recommend that seed be planted outdoors after the last frost is expected. Planting seeds before this time will result in non-germinating seeds or seeds that start to sprout outside and then are killed by an unexpected frost.
Secondly, start less hardy seeds inside 4-6 weeks before the expected last frost. Plant tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetable seeds in cups or peat pots should be put indoors to give them a head start on the growing season in cooler climates. Also, some seeds need lots of light to germinate while others need some darkness to germinate. Instructions for specific germination needs are usually included on the backs of seed packs.
The third tip is to prepare your outdoor soil properly before you plant your seeds. Remove debris, rocks, and weeds before you till your soil. Tilling can be done in small areas by hand shoveling, or you can use a tiller to dig the soil. Break up dirt clods and till the soil until it is well broken up.
Place an appropriate fertilizer in the hole before placing the plant in the hole. Be sure the hole is deep enough to cover the root ball of a transplanted plant. Follow the instructions on the package for planting depth for planting seeds. Appropriate planting depth is crucial when planting seeds, because seeds will not germinate appropriately when planted too deeply.
Once seeds or plants are put in the soil, keep them evenly moist but do not over water. Many seeds take about one to two weeks to germinate. Some take longer, so read the instructions on the package for information on when to expect your seeds to sprout. Some seeds take longer to germinate, so be patient while you wait for your seedling to emerge.
Fourth, harden off your seedlings before planting them out in the garden. Plants started indoors need to be acclimated to the outdoors before they are planted outside or they will die. Place the seedlings outside in a sheltered area like a porch for a week before you plant the seedlings outside permanently. This will give your baby plants a chance to get used to the temperature and direct sun and gain strength before they are planted outside.
The fifth and final tip for do-it-yourself gardening is to thin out plants started by seed. If you plant seeds according to the recommendations on the packaging, you will not need to thin seeds too much and you will not waste seeds by over planting.
Knowing when to start seeds indoors or outdoors will provide your garden with plenty of lovely flowers and vegetables to enjoy through your entire growing season.