Seed starting season is one of my kids’ favorite times of the year. They get to play and poke around in the dirt without too much fussing from mama. They enjoy watching the seeds build root systems and dumping the seed cups to see the roots. Mama isn’t so keen on the dumping part. That’s why we make double the seed starts each season.
Our first step for seed starting is mixing our soil: 1 bag of organic/non-fertilized, inexpensive potting soil + 1 bag of inexpensive composted manure. The boys had a great time using their muscles to open and dump bags. Mama did the mixing to ensure the soil stayed in the wheelbarrow.
We use plastic cups to start our seeds. They’re deeper than the average seed start container, cheaper, fairly transparent so we can see the roots and water levels, and we can write the seed varieties on the outside to keep track of what we’re growing. When we’re done with the cups, they get tossed into the mud puddles recycle bin.
Scooping the soil is always a fun time. The kids like making tracks and faces in the soil. The hardest part is keeping the soil in the cups or soil container.
Once the cups are ¾ full, the kids poke a hole in the middle of the soil. If you can use both hands to make seeds, it’s even more fun. They have a “rule” that one of the boys decided to implement: 3 seeds, no more, no less, no mess.
We cover the holes back up with soil after the seeds are in. Now it’s time to water the cups. Here is where the transparency comes in handy. The cup on the left is watered while the cup on the right is not. The visual difference helps the kids to know when to water the seeds: dark cup has enough water, light cup needs water. Seedlings and seed starts need consistent moisture to grow.
Once the seeds are watered, we line them up on a cardboard tray we collected from Costco. These trays hold enough cups for our first round of spring seeds. After the cups are in, we cover the sides and top with plastic wrap. This creates a greenhouse-effect to hold in moisture and heat to help the seeds to grow. The tray will sit on top of the fridge to keep warm and close to the direct light of the kitchen lights. We take it down every 2 days to check the moisture levels and see if any seeds have started sprouting.
These are our first round of spring seeds. We’ll have three more rounds depending on the start dates (listed on the back of the seed packs) of our seeds. Since our last frost date for our USDA zone is mid-April, we start the 8-10 week seeds in early February. This batch of seeds includes 2 varieties of heirloom eggplant and 3 varieties of peppers. Waiting in the wings are tomatoes, herbs, companion plants, flowers, cucumbers, squash, melons, and pollinator-attracting plants.
Mia is a wanna-be vegetable gardener, suburban homesteader, homeschool teacher, and superhero in disguise. She and her 4 children can be found working in the garden, eating ice cream, playing with Tonkas, planting pink flowers or shoveling dirt. You can follow their gardening adventures at ModernMia.com.