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 begin starting 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 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 🙂

 

 

 


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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. 
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Never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips. Whether you have a question you need answered, are looking for a tutorial to walk you through a specific task or are searching for a recipe to help you figure out what to make for dinner, all you have to do is Google it.⁣

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When I graduated from university with a degree in journalism many years ago, I remember thinking that while I knew how to write, edit, interview, shoot, and handle just about every part of creating a publication from the editorial standpoint, I really had no clue how to actually get published, let alone how the printing process works.

Over the years I’ve followed my passion for writing, editing and creating content, figuring much of it out on my own. From creating my blog to “self-publishing” my own digital/print magazine for the last 4 years, I’ve taught myself most of the practical skills necessary for turning an idea into a publication and getting said publication in the hands and in front of the eyes of many hundreds of readers.

But now that I’ve joined forces with the team at @homesteadlivingmagazine and @freeportpress, we’re all able to level up and reach many THOUSANDS of print and digital readers together.

People are HUNGRY for tried and tested advice on homesteading and self-reliant living. There’s a huge movement happening right now as more people wake up to all of the corruption in the world and realize that many of the systems we have come to depend on are fragile and on the brink of collapse. People are ready to take matters into their own hands by growing their own food, preparing their own meals, becoming producers instead of merely consumers and taking control of their health, freedom, security and lives.

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It’s been a minute since I popped into IG to say hi. (Hi! 👋) But before I share what’s been going on behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good time to (re)introduce myself, because I’ve never actually done that before!

My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

(The answer is obviously no one… No one wants that).

Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

This chicken door from @chickcozy_ is so easy to install and use too, and right now you can get one for a steal during their Black Friday sale!

Save over $40 off an automatic chicken door, plus use my coupon code for an ADDITIONAL DISCOUNT!

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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

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It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

If you’re also feeling the urgency to take the first (or next) steps toward a more self-reliant life, this is your final reminder that today is the last day to join The Society of Self-Reliance and start levelling up your homesteading and self-sufficiency skills so that you’ve got what it takes to:

• Grow your own groceries
• Stock your pantry
• Create a natural home
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And more!

If you’ve been feeling called to level up your self-reliance skills (because let’s be honest, we’re in for a wild ride these next few years with everything going on in the world), now is the time to heed that call.

Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

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There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

Plus, having to wait all year for fresh tomatoes or strawberries or zucchinis to be in season makes that short period when they’re available just that much more exciting!

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(It also means learning to preserve it so you can make the most of it and enjoy homegrown food all year long).

In my online membership program, The Society of Self-Reliance, you’ll learn how to grow your own food, from seed to harvest, as well as how to preserve it so you can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor all year long!

You’ll also learn how to grow and craft your own herbal medicine, detox your home, become your own handyman, and so much more (because self-reliance is about more than just the food that we eat… But that’s a pretty good place to start!)

The doors to the Society are now open for a limited time only. Click the link in my profile or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society to learn more.

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

When I first launched this online membership program last year, my goal was to create a one-stop resource where members could go to learn and practice every aspect of self-reliance, as well as a space to connect with other like-minded people pursuing the same goal. And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you join!

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn inside the Society:

🌱 Food Security and Self-Sufficiency: Learn the art of growing and preserving your own food, ensuring you and your loved ones have access to nutritious meals year-round.

🌿 Natural Living and Herbal Medicine Mastery: Discover the secrets to creating a low-tox home and and to growing, making and using herbal remedies to support your family’s health, naturally.

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As a member, you’ll enjoy:

📚 Monthly Video Lessons: Gain access to our ever-growing library of video lessons, with fresh content added each month.

📞 Live Group Coaching Calls: Participate in our monthly live group coaching calls, where we deep dive into a different self-reliance topic every month, and do live demonstrations and Q&A’s.

🏡 Private Community: Join our private community forum where you can ask questions, share your progress, and connect with like-minded individuals.

I only open the doors to The Society once or twice each year, but right now, for one week only, you can become a member for just $20/month (or $200/year).

In today’s world, self-reliance is no longer a luxury, a “cute hobby,” it’s a necessity. Join us inside The Society of Self-Reliance and empower yourself with the skills you need to thrive in the new world!

Link in profile or visit thehouseandhomestead.com/society to learn more.

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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

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Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-guide to get your free copy!
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#garlic #garlicharvest #homesteading #selfsufficient #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #selfreliance #homegrown #groworganic #growfoodnotlawns #gardenersofinstagram #homesteadersofinstagram
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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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#homesteading #modernhomesteading #raisinglittles
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If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/12-frugal-living-tips-summer/
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#houseandhomestead
#momentsofcalm
#pursuejoy
#simplepleasuresoflife
#thatauthenticfeeling
#findhappiness
#artofslowliving
#simplelifepleasures
#lifesimplepleasure
#simplepleasuresinlife
#thatauthenticlife
#authenticlifestyle
#liveanauthenticlife
#livinginspired
#savouringhappiness
#livemoment
#localgoodness
#simplelive
#lifeouthere
#enjoywhatyouhave
#frugallifestyle
#homesteadingmama
#offgridhomestead
#modernfarmhousekitchen
#crunchymama
#rusticfarmhouse
#farmhouseinspo
#farmhouselife
#modernhomesteading
#backyardfarmer
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