Everybody who has come to Maas Nursery lately has Spring Fever…BAD. It’s still rainy and a little cold so getting outside is a challenge sometimes. Starting some of your vegetables from seed is a fun thing to do and very easy to accomplish during our transition from winter to spring. There are all sorts of different, unique vegetables that can be started from seed that can’t be found as transplants. At Maas we have a very wide variety of seeds from 3 different seed companies: Renee’s Garden, Botanical Interests and Seed Saver’s Exchange. Between these 3 excellent seed companies you should be able to find any seed your heart desires. All of our seed companies have signed the no GMO pledge. There are also many organic and heirloom open pollinated varieties to choose from.
A lot of us have limited space for vegetable gardening making container vegetable gardening very appealing. Starting container vegetables from seed is very easy. There are container friendly varieties for every type of vegetable from carrots to pumpkins. A few of these varieties are bush beans or peas, bush or hanging type tomatoes, container zucchini, cucumber and eggplant, Paris market carrots, climbing and bush squash, radishes and many more. All greens, lettuce, spinach and chard can be grown in containers. For gardeners who are lucky enough to have room for a larger garden we have so many varieties to choose from it will make your head spin! Don’t forget that you can grow many vegetables on trellis’s, saving room for other veggies. Greens such as lettuce and chard can be grown in the shadow of your trellis all through the summer. Once seed choices have been made, it’s time to plant you seeds.
A good organic seed starting mix is the most important step to starting your seed whether you are going to plant directly in a garden or container or in transplant pots. For transplants we recommend Ladybug germinator mix. This mix has everything the seed needs for healthy germination. If you are planting your seeds directly into the ground or in containers we have found that about an inch to two inch layer of LadyBug earthworm castings on top of an organic vegetable gardening soil is the best way to get consistent seed germination. Some vegetable seeds need sunlight to germinate and some do not. Some seeds need pretreating such as soaking over night or scarring. Our seed companies provide excellent seed planting information directly on the seed packet. All seedlings need to be kept moist before they sprout. Misting with a spray bottle is the best way to water your seeds. Providing seeds with beneficial fungi to fight damping off ( a fungus that will kill your seedlings) is a good idea. Products containing Actinovate or other beneficial fungi products work well. You can mix these bioadditives in your spray bottle and apply them every time you water. This is both good for the plants and the soil.
After your seeds sprout, protecting them from critters is the next step. Slugs and snails are a seedlings worst enemy. Clear plastic cups with the bottoms cut out placed over your seedlings is the best defense. This is not always practical if you have lots of seedlings. Diatomaceous earth or Sluggo products are both approved for organic gardening. Roly Poly bugs, though cute, will also eat your seedlings. Watch for them and relocate if you don’t have the heart to smush them. Other pests on your vegetables such as caterpillars, borers or other insects can be discouraged by physical barriers such as netting or summer cloth. Come to Maas if you are having pest troubles and ask one of our vegetable experts. We have a wealth of knowledge among us.
All of our seed companies have good websites with superb seed starting information along with more info on each type of vegetable. These website are: reneesgarden.com, botanical interests.com and seedsaver.com. Three other websites I use for research are rareseeds.com which is the Baker Creek Seeds website. Southernexposure.com has good info for growing seeds in our climate. Grow-it-organically.com is an excellent source of information for everything from soil to fertilizing to harvesting the organic way.
For me, starting my vegetables from seed is the most rewarding work I do in the garden. I get to choose odd plants such as patty pan squash, Rosa Bianca eggplant, Little gem lettuce and climbing honey nut squash. Also there is a much wider variety of heirloom and organic selection of seed compared to transplants. Since most seed packets are less than $3.00 I have no problem trying new and different varieties. Now, with all the new chemicals being sprayed on non organic vegetables it is more important than ever to grow your own veggies. Try planting veggies from seed this year and come to us for any advice you may need. The satisfaction from growing food from seed to harvest can’t be beat!