8 Things To Think About Before Starting Seeds


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Get the most out of your vegetable garden this year by taking a few moments to consider these eight things before you even begin seed starting. #seedstarting #startseeds #homegarden #growyourownfoodAt long last, the snow on the ground has almost all melted, the songbirds are chirping in the forest around us, the crocuses and daffodils have poked their heads out of the ground and there’s a distinct feeling of spring in the air. 

I LOVE this time of year.

Full disclosure: I actually love every seasonal transition. Spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter and winter to spring. I get a little dreamy when the seasons begin to change and we enter a new time of year with fresh projects to tackle and things to enjoy. 

But the transition from winter to spring is truly a special time. It’s when life begins again. It’s the very first taste of the times of plenty that lie ahead.

As a gardener, the beginning of spring means one thing above all: seed starting season. 

We grow all of our annual vegetables from seed so we need to start thinking about what we’re planting by the end of winter. We usually start our first seeds indoors in February and by March we’re in full-on seed starting mode. 

The onions, green onions and leeks get planted first in February. Then come the tomatoes and peppers in early March. Next is the broccoli and cabbage and then we start to direct sow our other veggies like carrots, beets and peas. 

I also start some of our herbs from seed, like sage, lavender and cannabis. So needless to say, we need a little bit of indoor growing space and some forethought before planting to make sure we set ourselves up for growing success from seed to harvest each year.

 

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening

 

There are always a few things to consider before starting seeds in the spring. For starters, aside from what you’ll be planting, you also need to decide how much of each plant you’ll grow. Trust me, I know first hand that it’s all too easy to start more seeds than you actually have room for in your garden! Then again, it’s always better to over-plant and thin out seedlings than to not plant enough (in my opinion anyways).

Next you’ll need to know how and when to start your chosen seeds. Do they need to be direct sown or should you start them indoors? When should you plant them? And by the way, what gardening zone are you in again?

Yep, there’s a lot to think about before you even start your seeds. But don’t worry if you’ve already begun! In my experience the garden has a way of working itself out. Still, it never hurts to start off on the right foot:)

 

8 things to consider before starting vegetable seeds

 

1. When is your last average frost date?

Above all else, you should know two things as a gardener: your first and last average frost dates. The entire gardening season revolves around these two dates, and knowing your last frost date is critically important when it comes to seed starting. 

Starting your seeds indoors too early could mean that they grow too large before the weather warms up and they need more space than you can provide them with indoors. Direct sowing them too early might mean that the seeds won’t germinate. Starting them too late could mean a shorter season and a smaller harvest or, for cold weather varieties, it could mean the plants will bolt and go to seed before you’ve had a chance to harvest them for food.

As long as you know your approximate last frost date for your area and gardening zone (which you should also know), then you’ll have a good idea when to start all of your seeds. I find The Old Farmer’s Almanac (online edition) to be the easiest and most accurate way to find first and last frost dates for all different garden zones.

 

2. Do the seeds need to be direct sown or started indoors?

While some seeds can either be started indoors or direct sown, others are more particular about where they take root. Peas, for example, don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so they do better when direct sown outdoors in the place where they’ll remain. Tomatoes and peppers, on the other hand, need to be started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date in most gardening zones because they won’t have time to mature and produce much fruit if you wait until the weather outside is warm enough to direct sow.

Do some research on the types of seeds you’re planting and find out whether you need to start them indoors early in the season or whether they’ll do better direct sown in the garden. For a quick reference guide, grab a copy of our free Seed Starting Cheat Sheet for tips on how to start 10 common garden vegetables from seed.

 

3. How many plants of each variety do you want to grow?

Figuring this out with better accuracy gets easier year after year as you begin to get a feel for how much space you have in your garden and how much of each vegetable you and your family actually eat. 

For us, we can never grow too many tomato plants. Even if we can’t fit them in the garden beds, we can always plant them in buckets (and we can always get more buckets if we have too many plants!) We love eating tomatoes fresh-off-the-vine in the summer and use them in all sorts of sauces and preserves for use over the winter.

Cucumbers, however, are major producers and a handful plants will give us all that we need for fresh eating and preserving (pickling cukes are another story, although I get those from a local farm). So we only plant 5 or 6 cucumber plants max.

It helps to have an idea of how much of each vegetable you’ll actually use (and have space in your garden for). Think about what you and your family eat the most and start there. If you’re not sure or you’ve never tried growing a particular vegetable before, err on the side of growing less. See how you like it first before allowing it to take up valuable real estate in your garden. This is especially true if you’re limited on garden space and want to get the most out of every inch. Besides, if you discover something new that you really like, you can always plant more next year:)

 

4. Where will you plant your seeds & seedlings?

If direct sowing, where exactly will you plant your seeds? You’ll want to move your annual vegetables as little as possible so that their roots can really take hold so think about where you want to put them before you put them there! 

You should also think about where you’ll eventually be transplanting your seedlings to when they’re ready to go outside. Taking time to map out your garden and decide what will go where before starting seeds and considering things like crop rotation and companion planting ahead of time will help your plants to thrive in your garden later on.

 

5. What will you start seeds in?

If you’re starting seeds indoors, you’ll need to decide what you’re going to start your seeds in. You can start seeds in all sorts of things, from egg cartons to eggshells, recycled plastic containers to cell trays and everything in between. Decide what makes the most sense for you and the veggies you’re growing. 

For seedlings you’ll be transplanting into the garden early in the season (like lettuce), you could opt for small cell trays or shallow egg cartons. For plants that will be indoors longer and need more room to grow (like tomatoes), opt for peat pots or save money by making your own seed starting pots out of newspaper.

 

6. How will you ensure your indoor seedlings get adequate light?

If you’re starting seeds indoors, you’ll need a light source to mimic the sun once seedlings sprout. Now, you can always put seedlings near a warm sunny window and use the actual sun as your light source, but since you’ll be starting many of your seeds in the winter or early spring when it’s still cold outside (and chilly near windows), your best bet is to set up some indoor growing lights.

Get the most out of your vegetable garden this year by taking a few moments to consider these eight things before you even begin seed starting. #seedstarting #startseeds #homegarden #growyourownfood

You can purchase grow lights online or at your local garden supply store or grab some fluorescent lights from the hardware store and make your own indoor growing stand. Either way, make sure you’ve got a light source set up and ready to go before your seedlings sprout.

 

7. Where will you set up your indoor seedlings?

I’ve seen people grow seedlings on kitchen countertops and even set up grow lights on their living room floor, but that would never fly in this house with a toddler and two cats roaming around. In fact, we lost the very first round of broccoli seedlings we ever started to our kitten because we put them in a way too accessible place. Now we grow our seedlings on a metal shelving unit fitted with lights, in our laundry/mud room away from prying toddler hands and curious kitty cat paws.

Another thing you should be careful of is to keep them away from any heat sources (other than grow lights, the sun or a heating pad meant for growing seedlings, of course). Keeping seedlings too close to a heater or wood stove can dry out the soil and even kill the seedlings.

You’ll need to consider your space and any special circumstances (dogs, cats, kids, heaters, etc.) and make sure to keep your seedlings in a safe spot so they actually make it to the garden!

 

8. How will you care for them if you need to go away?

Seedlings are like babies: they require constant care and they’re very fragile until they’re strong enough to go out on their own (to the garden, that is).

While you might be able to get away with leaving full-grown plants alone for a week or so in the summer, or maybe have a neighbour water them once every few days, seedlings pretty much need daily care to make sure they survive. Germinating seeds especially need consistent watering to keep the soil moist. So what should you do if you need to go away from home for a few days or even a week or two while your seedlings are still just getting started?

If you have a good neighbour, friend or family member to care for them on a consistent basis, consider yourself lucky. Just make sure you go over your light and watering schedule with them. We’ve left seedlings with a friend before and lots of them died because they were either over-watered or under-watered. We had to start lots of our seeds all over again which put us a few weeks behind. Moral of the story: make sure whoever is caring for them knows what they’re doing.

Seed starting | grow lights | indoor growing | starting seeds indoors

Another option is to automate your lights and watering. We use a light timer on our grow lights that shuts off at 10 pm and turns back on at 6 am when our seedlings are just getting started. Seedlings need lots of light, but still, the lights shouldn’t be on 24/7 because they need a natural “night” period as well. Light timers are super inexpensive and make indoor growing just that much easier, so I recommend one even if you’re not going anywhere.

Likewise, setting up an automatic watering system can save you from having to hand water and is definitely a good idea if you’re going away and don’t have anyone to come water every day.

We’re headed on a very rare beach vacation at the end of March this year, so we invested in a basic drip irrigation system and watering timer for less than $50 so that we can set up automatic watering for our seedlings while we’re away. The bonus is that we can set up that drip irrigation system outside when our seedlings are ready to go out and automate some of our outdoor watering all season long. Drip irrigation is especially good for plants like tomatoes that don’t like to get their leaves wet!

 

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

There’s a lot to think about when you’re planning your garden, and honestly, these are just a handful of the things you’ll want to consider before even starting your annual vegetable seeds. But the more experience you gain as a gardener, the better you’ll get at planning for a productive and plentiful garden each year. The most important thing of all is that you take action and get those seeds started!

Even if you mess something up or have a #gardenfail, you’ll learn valuable lessons that will help you improve your garden game year after year. That’s how we’ve learned almost everything we know about gardening today, and I can say without a doubt that we head into each new gardening season with more knowledge than we had the year before.

At the end of the day, your garden is a classroom where you should feel free to learn and play and experiment without worrying about it being “perfect.” Because there’s no such thing as a perfect garden, or a perfect gardener! There’s always more to learn, even for the most experienced gardener. In the meantime, you get to enjoy some beautiful homegrown vegetables and marvel at the miracle of growing a big, luscious, life-giving plant from nothing more than a tiny seed. How cool is that?

What will you be growing from seed this year? What past garden failures have you learned from and what will you do differently this year? Let me know if the comments below!

P.S. Don’t forget to grab your free Seed Starting Cheat Sheet and take the guesswork out of starting 10 common garden vegetables from seed!

—-> Seed Starting Cheat Sheet (Free Download!)

P.P.S. If you’re serious about growing your own food at home, then make sure to download my free guide, How to Grow Your Own Food in Less Than 15 Minutes A Day and learn how to grow an organic grocery store in your backyard even if you’re limited on time!

 

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂

 

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
Easy Fermented Jalapeños Recipe

Easy Fermented Jalapeños Recipe

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   When we first started growing jalapeños, we did so with the intention of using them to make homemade salsa. We figured we’d be lucky to get enough jalapeños to...

read more

How to Can Homemade Tomato Sauce

How to Can Homemade Tomato Sauce

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   When it comes to home-canned food, tomato sauce reigns supreme when it comes to versatility. I don’t know about you, but in our house we eat a lot of...

read more

What’s your favourite food preservation method??

For Angi Schneider of @schneiderpeeps, the answer is pressure canning, hands-down.

The fact is, there are many ways to preserve food, and each of them has its place and serves its purpose. But the only preservation method that allows you to preserve full meals that are ready to eat straight out of the jar is pressure canning.

Water bath canning allows you to preserve high acid foods like fruits, pickles, jams and jellies.

Fermenting adds beneficial bacteria, increases the nutritional value and adds a distinct (and acquired) flavour to foods.

Dehydrating and freeze drying are great long term storage preservation methods, and are a great option for preppers, hunters or anyone who needs to carry their food preps with them.

Pressure canning, on the other hand, allows you to have jars of food ready to serve and eat at a moment’s notice. It’s great to hand on hand during an emergency, but it also serves as practical, every day food that you and your family will actually eat.

Whether it’s a busy weeknight and you have no time to cook, you’ve got unexpected company or you find yourself in the middle of an emergency or power outage, having jars of healthy, homemade food –including full meals– on hand always comes in handy.

Angi and I sat down to chat about the many benefits of pressure canning, and about her brand new book Pressure Canning For Beginners And Beyond in an interview for the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine (out now).

To read the full interview and/or to check out Angi’s new cookbook (which includes some seriously drool-worthy canning recipes like Chicken Marsala, Beef Street Tacos, Maple Ginger Glazed Carrots and French Onion Soup), click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe and get your first issue free!

For a limited time, you can also become a member and get full access to our entire library of issues for just $7.99/year. Link in bio to get all the goods:)

Seriously though… What’s your favourite food preservation method and why? (There are no wrong answers!)

Let me know in the comments below!👇
...

For the past week or so, I’ve been sharing a new morning routine I've been committing to...

It's the simple act of lighting a candle to start each day.

In this age of unnatural blue light emanating from our screens, fluorescent and even LED lighting from overhead lights and lamps, it can be quite a shock to the system to go from sleeping in complete darkness to flipping on the bright lights and checking email on your smartphone first thing in the a.m.

By simply lighting a candle and allowing your eyes a minute or two to adjust before turning on the lights or checking a screen, you have the power to create a much calmer and more peaceful start to your day, and that has lasting effects that can and will stay with you all day long.

I know I’m not the only one who can benefit from this simple but powerful morning ritual, so I decided to start a challenge to encourage others to do the same.

If you'd like to participate, grab a candle and a pack of matches (or a lighter) and commit to lighting a candle to start your day for as many days as you can during the month of October.

Every time you share a photo of your candle/morning ritual on Instagram posts or stories and tag me @thehouseandhomestead and use the hashtag #candlelitmorning, you'll be entered to win a naturally-scented candle of your choice from Plant Therapy!

This being said, I know that good quality candles aren't exactly cheap, but you can save a tone of money by learning how to make your own!

If you're interested in learning how to make your own all-natural soy candles with essential oils at home, I'm currently offering my DIY Scented Soy Candles Masterclass for FREE as part of the Handmade Holiday Giveaway, hosted by my friend and fellow Vancouver Islander Diana Bouchard of @wanderinghoofranch

Other limited-time freebies include:

* Exclusive homestead holiday recipes
* Free knitting and crochet patterns
* Free homemade cocktail mixers course
* Cute printable gift tags and more!

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to check out everything that's included in the Handmade Holiday Giveaway.

And don't forget to join in the #candlelitmorning challenge right here on Instagram!
...

Sometimes I don’t post photos because I can’t think of a brilliant, thought-provoking caption to go with each one.

But then again, sometimes a photo speaks for itself:)

This weekend reminded me how important it is to be present, both with ourselves and with the ones we love. This weekend I was reminded of what I’m truly grateful for. 🧡

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

#givethanks #staypresent #familyiseverything
...

Drop a ❤️ below 👇 if you can relate!

A professional teacher turned homeschooling mom of two, Allyson Speake was spinning her wheels trying to keep up with her family’s fast-paced modern lifestyle until she made the intentional decision to slow down and quit her job as a teacher to stay home and educate her children at home. Nowadays she helps others do the same!

If you’ve ever stumbled across her Instagram page @tanglewoodhollow, you’ve likely been met with beautiful photos of children playing and exploring in the woods, nature crafts, treasures and toadstools galore. Her passion for slow, seasonal living and nature-based education shows in everything she posts!

But her inspiring Instagram page is just a glimpse into what she has to offer other homeschoolers, teachers, parents and guardians from all walks of life who want to bring a little more seasonal magic into their children’s lives, and who know that the best classroom is the great outdoors.

I sat down with her for the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine and she shared some real nuggets of wisdom for anyone with young children (not just homeschoolers!)

In the interview, Allyson shares that “on average three-year-olds can identify 100 different brand logos, and that increases to 300-400 by age 10.” If that’s not reason enough to turn off the TV and get outside, I don’t know what is!

“Whatever children are exposed to, they are able to soak it up like sponges, but they aren’t getting that exposure to nature,” she says.

Catch the full interview in the Fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Subscribe for free to read your first issue free or become a member to get this issue plus access to our entire library of past issues for just $7.99/year!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#homeschool #homeschooling #naturebasedlearning #naturebasededucation #wildandfreechildren #freerangekids
...

🛠 “Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things.”
- Biz Stone

The other day I asked you what the most valuable asset is on your homestead, and I shared that mine is my dear husband @thehumblehandyman

Everyone who knows him knows he can build and repair just about anything. It’s a true talent, but he’s also spent years learning and sharpening his skills.

But talent and skills are only half of the equation; You’ve gotta have the right tools for the job!

As homesteaders, our main mission in life is to become more self-sufficient, and that extends to building and repairing things at home. But whether you’re an expert handyman or a fledgling fixer-upper, you can't do the job if you don't have the right tools on hand.

If you’re just starting out and wondering what tools to invest in, The Humble Handyman and I put together a list of 15 essential tools that everyone should have on hand for minor repairs and odd jobs around the home (and homestead), along with tips on how to actually use each one.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to check it out or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/15-essential-tools-home-toolkit/

Which of these tools do you already have?

Which ones are next on your list to invest in??

What are your go-to tools to use around your house and homestead??? (Duct tape totally counts 😉)

Let me know in the comments below! 👇

#toolsofthetrade #toolkit #diy #handyman
...

🪓 What’s the most valuable asset on your homestead?

For me, it’s this guy right here.

He was only away for two weeks, but that’s all the time it took for me to realize how much he brings to the table, and how valuable it is to have a live-in handyman on a homestead!

When our burner crapped out on our stove in the middle of a canning project last week, I had no idea how to fix it and was ready to buy a brand new stove, but luckily Ryan came home with all of his tools just a couple days later and fixed it for a fraction of the cost of buying a new stove.

When we were getting chickens, he built our chicken coop. When I wanted to put in new garden beds, he built them. Deck? Done! Firewood? Chopped! Bathroom? Remodelled! Car broken down? Fixed! (Did I mention he’s a trained mechanic too?)

If you don’t have your own handyman at home though, you can still learn the skills you need to become more self-sufficient when it comes to tackling new building projects and repairing and maintaining things at home.

I’m thrilled to announce that @thehumblehandyman now has his own regular feature in each issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, where he’ll share simple steps you can take to increase your self-sufficiency by learning how to DIY all sorts of projects around your house and homestead.

In his debut feature, he shares 5 simple steps you can take this fall to help you prepare your house and homestead for the coming winter, all of which could save you time, money and effort during the season of rest.

Check out the full article in the Fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, available now!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe and read your first issue free, or become a member and get this issue plus unlimited access to all past issues for just $7.99/year!

I’d love to know what handyman/DIY skills or projects you’d like to see featured in future issues. Leave a comment below👇and let me know!

#handyman #homesteading #diy #handymanhusband #skills #woodworking #jackofalltrades #selfsufficiency #selfsufficient #selfsufficientliving #sustainableliving #homesteadersofinstagram
...

Did you know you can now buy pumpkin spice ramen noodles, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice macaroni and cheese, pumpkin spice sausages and even pumpkin spice dog treats?

It’s not exactly a stretch to say that we’ve taken the whole pumpkin spice craze a little bit too far.

But our obsession with pumpkin spice speaks to something much deeper than the flavour itself. (Let’s be honest, pumpkin spice ramen noodles sound gag-worthy).

The reason we tend to love pumpkin spice so much is because it triggers feelings of comfort and nostalgia; Memories of days spent with family at the pumpkin patch or around the Thanksgiving table. In short, pumpkin spice triggers our emotions as much as it tantalizes our taste buds.

But let’s be real, pumpkin spice Pringles ain’t it.

If you’re feeling all the fall vibes and craving a little pumpkin spice in your life right now, stick to the tried and true pumpkin spice latte, but ditch the expensive (and highly processed) commercial PSLs and make your own pumpkin spice syrup (with real pumpkin!) at home for a fraction of the cost! Keep it on hand to add to your coffees, teas and steamed milk beverages all Autumn long.

It’s super easy to make and will put pumpkin spice macaroni squarely in its place (and keep it there!)

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab the recipe or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-pumpkin-spice-syrup/

#pumpkinspice #psl #pumpkinspicelatte #fallvibes #fromscratch
...

I’ve been feeling pulled to slow down and retreat into my home lately; To turn off the news and social media and focus on the tangible things like lighting the wood stove, preserving the mountains of food still coming out of the garden, and slowly stirring a pot of soup as it cooks on the stovetop.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I know I’m not the only one feeling pulled toward hearth and home. This is a heavy time for all of us. No one person is meant to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders, but I've heard from so many people lately who say that's exactly how they've been feeling.

If you read my post from a few days ago, you know I’ve been feeling like that too, but luckily, I've learned how to soothe my soul in difficult times.

And so that's what I've been doing lately...

I've been focusing on the tangible things that I can control, like cooking meals and preserving food.

I've been lingering a little longer in the morning, taking time to sit by the river or sip my coffee in front of the wood stove before hurrying on with my day.

And I've been making a conscious effort to turn off the noise of the outside world and give my family and my own emotional health my full attention.

If you've also been feeling that pull to turn off all of the noise and immerse yourself in more nourishing, productive activities, I want to tell you about a collection of resources that will help you do just that.

The Simple Living Collective’s Autumn Issue includes seasonal guides, tutorials, e-books, recipes and more to help you slow down and reconnect with what matters this season.

* Learn how to forage for healing herbs and how to make your own natural medicine

* Find new ways to celebrate old traditions, and create new seasonal traditions with your family

* Discover new seasonal recipes and crafts to do on your own or with your kids

And much more.

If this sounds like it’s exactly what you're in need of right now, check out the Simple Living Collective and get the Autumn Issue for just $25. But this issue is only available until tomorrow, so don't wait…

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab it now before it disappears 🍁
...

I laid in bed the other night and couldn’t sleep.

I know that probably doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, especially considering the collective stress we’ve all been through over the past year and a half. But if I’m being totally honest, I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting it get to me.

I used to have really bad anxiety, and I made a conscious effort to learn how to manage it in (mostly) healthy, natural ways. I practice a lot of gratitude every day, and overall I’ve learned to deal with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts pretty well.

Lately though, I’ve been feeling the weight of it all. Aside from dealing with personal issues like our ongoing infertility/pregnancy loss journey and the every day stresses we all face, the bigger things have been feeling bigger and heavier lately; The mandates, the politics, the pushback, the arguments and attacks online, the divisiveness, and the seemingly never-ending pandemic that every single one of us is still dealing with in some capacity.

I’ve been seeing more and more calls to “choose a side.” I’ve witnessed my own close friends on both sides of the debate hurling insults at each other, defending their ground, and refusing to listen to each other’s valid points and concerns.

I’ve even witnessed a widening crack in the homesteading community, despite the fact that so many of our core values and beliefs align and are unique to us.

Despite the division, I would still argue that ALL of us have much more in common than not, and to see the divide continuing to deepen has started to get under my skin lately.

(Continued in comments…)
...

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal

Crafted with ♥ by Inscape Designs