As I sit and write this, the sun is shining in my front window, brightly glistening off of the snow covered yard. A beautiful winter day, it seems the whole community is out shaking off cold weather doldrums and breathing in some of this chinook weather: neighborhood kids are sledding at the park across the street, an elderly couple just passed by my window, taking their jubilant golden retriever for a walk, and yes I even just saw a squirrel run right up my spruce tree with what looked like a piece of a sunflower rummaged out of the leftovers of last year’s garden.
I always love the beginning of February, as it signals so much of the promise of the year: Valentine’s Day, time to celebrate love the world around; Family Day, a break to get in touch with everyone you hold dear; and lengthening daylight hours, meaning gardening season is coming! If you haven’t started thinking about the enchantment you want to create in your yard this spring, the time is now to begin planning; if you are thinking about growing your garden from scratch, the time is also now to begin seeding!!
Following is your check list for starting seed indoors – stay tuned for great seeding schedules and best varieties!
Before You Seed Anything
• Clean your seeding supplies. Use warm soapy water with 10% bleach added. I usually soak seed trays and tray covers for a few minutes. Any trowels, dibblers, or other small hand tools I throw in for five minutes or so as well. Wipe clean if they are really dirty or had fungus etc. on them last year. After bringing out of the water, don’t bother to dry with a rag; just allow to air dry.
• Buy high-quality seeding media from a reputable garden outlet. Avoid soil-based seeding mixtures, as they tend to be heavier than soil-less mixes, and controlling the moisture can be a real pain in the backside with heavy soil; fungus gnats can also get out of control very quickly in soil that is water logged. Soil-less mixes have better PH for germinating and are generally made up of peat moss, corn husks, perlite, and vermiculite; this media holds ample water for germinating and growing on, yet sheds excess water. I prefer to use organic media as I find that seed germinates quicker and more evenly without all of the excess chemicals that standard seeding mix contains.
• Clean out your window ledges. Vacuum up dust and use soapy water with 10% bleach to get down into the crevices; wipe clean. Fungus gnats and other plant pathogens love overwintering here; cleaning these areas before you seed can eliminate numerous future issues!
• Buy a calendar or find a good online version. Best results from germinating and growing on are achieved when you keep track of what you seed, and when you do it. Not only does it help you to solve issues as they arise (i.e. you seeded columbine two weeks ago and it still hasn’t germinated? A quick search on the internet and you will discover that you just need to pop the seeded tray into the fridge for a couple days), it is a great way to track your current progress for reference next year when you want to seed again. I can’t tell you how many gardeners we have had into our store that say, “Last year I had the most beautiful flowers/ tasty veggies, and I want to grow them again this year but can’t remember what type they were!” Simply recording dates and varieties can go a long way to your future success!
• Breathe. Take 10 minutes of every single day to appreciate everything that our natural world has to offer us. Cold weather and snow (lots and lots of snow) are still coming our way before the warm spring breezes start to blow; just keep smiling and know that underneath that frozen ground there are hundreds – no thousands – of amazing plants, waiting patiently for spring. I have to wonder if they too smile a little every time we get a break from the deep freeze?