Here’s what you need to get started:
- A plan. Make sure you know your space. As soon as you start shopping for seeds, you’ll want everything. Check mature sizes and plan accordingly. Be honest about how much time you’re willing to spend in the garden. Beginners might want to stick with a small selection of their favorite fruits and veggies.
- Seeds. Stop in and browse our curated selection of seeds, we stock flavorful heirloom favorites and disease-resistant hybrids. Check out staff favorites like Cosmic Purple Carrots, Rainbow Blend Beets, and Rainbow Quinoa.
- Potting soil. Choose something light and fluffy to nurse the tiny roots along. A mixture of soil, peat, and perlite is best. We like Fertilome Seed & Cutting Mix.
- Containers. Large-scale gardens may require full size flats, but first timers may want to stick with biodegradable peat pots to start off their gardening experience. These pots get planted directly into the soil, reducing the chance of root damage during transplanting. Pick up a plastic tray to hold them and help with watering.
- Light. Most homes will need some sort of supplemental light for seedlings to grow properly. Pick an option that works for your space. There’s inexpensive bulbs that will screw into any fixture, full-scale grow light systems with racks and heat mats, and everything in between.
- Heat source. Seed starting mats warm the soil from below, decreasing germination time. For beginners, the top of a refrigerator is a good spot to warm the seeds.
- Plant labels. Label your seeds right away. Whether you turn it into an art project or stick with utilitarian labels, make sure you know which seeds are which.
- A notebook. Keep track of your successes and failures. It’s helpful to refer back to when seeds were planted, when you noticed them poking up out of the soil, and when they were transplanted. Gardening is always an experiment. Failures offer opportunities for growth as a gardener, so be open to the lessons!
Planting seeds too early or too late can complicate the process. Beginners should stick close to these dates. Seedlings planted too early can outgrow their pots before the weather warms, those planted too late won’t be ready to transplant and will miss valuable growing time outside.
Early March: Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
Mid March: Peppers and eggplants
Late March: Tomatoes
Early April: Melons, squash, and cucumbers, though these can also be sown directly into the ground later in the spring.
Step by step
Seedlings will need to be hardened off before they’re transplanted outside. Two weeks before transplanting, start to back off on water and fertilizer. A week before transplanting, set the seedlings outside in dappled sunlight for a few hours each day so they grow accustomed to natural light. Slowly increase the amount of time they spend in the sun. Continue to protect the seedlings from cold temperatures.