Happy Spring, everyone! With the snow (mostly) all melted and the temperatures inching their way above freezing, we at Total Home Supply are getting ready to garden. It’s just so great to be able to walk outside and smell the earth again, and we can’t wait to get down in the dirt and plant some new flowers and vegetables.
But not so fast — new plants shouldn’t go in the ground until at least May 15th. If your green thumb is itching now, though, don’t worry; the end of March/beginning of April is an ideal time to plant your seeds and get your garden started indoors!
Seeds are what we’re really looking to plant at this time of year, because the more of a head start they get inside, the better chance they have of surviving outdoors. Whether you have any seeds you saved from last year (tomato and marigold seeds, for example, are easy to extract and save) or are working with packaged seeds only, you’re going to want to get them started as soon as possible. So, let’s get to it!
What to Plant
You can start pretty much any flower seeds now and expect them to hold up, but certain fruits and vegetables are more resilient to the colder April temperatures than others. Here are some fruit and vegetable seeds to consider planting at the end of March into April:
Beets, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, corn, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, melons, peas, spinach, tomatoes, summer squash, beans.
What to Use
Not all soil is created equal, especially when you’re working with new seeds. You’re going to want to steer clear of regular potting soil, which is too heavy and dense to support the growth of new plants. The best kind of soil for seeds is actually a blend of mostly sphagnum peat moss with a bit of vermiculite and/or perlite. Peat moss is light and ideal for new, delicate roots and the vermiculite/perlite mix allows for greater water retention, which will help your seeds germinate. Most blends of this type have also been sterilized to prevent bacteria and fungus, for an even healthier environment for your seeds.
We recommend using peat moss pots, as well, because they can go right into the ground when your seedlings are grown enough. Peat moss pots can be found at most garden centers, as can the peat moss soil blend.
To avoid a muddy mess inside your home, use a plastic tray container to hold your pots. You’ll usually find these containers right by the peat moss pots in any garden center.
How to Do It
Fill your peat moss pots with your peat moss soil blend (be careful not to pack the soil or else your plant’s roots won’t have enough room to grow), pour about a teaspoon of water into the cup to moisten the soil, and plant your seeds according to the instructions on the package. Many seeds are tiny and can be sprinkled into the soil, but planting too many seeds in one pot will cause chaos when the roots start to grow, so don’t go overboard. When working with larger seeds, just use one per pot.
Cover your seeds with the appropriate amount of soil (again, the package will tell you how much), and use a spray bottle to lightly moisten the top layer. It is important at this stage of your plants’ lives not to overwhelm them with too much water, so using a spray bottle to mist your seeds instead of pouring water directly into the pots is the way to go.
Once your seeds are planted, place them near a sunny window and, if possible, use a fluorescent lamp for supplementary light and heat. March/April weather can be a bit unpredictable, with lots of clouds and rain and varying temperatures, so having a fluorescent lamp as a backup is a good idea. To create a “greenhouse” effect and help your little seeds along even more, place some plastic wrap gently over the top.
Plastic wrap will also help the soil to retain moisture, but check on your plants daily to make sure the soil hasn’t gone too dry. Count on misting your seeds once every 2-3 days, or as needed.
Keep an eye out for more gardening tips and tricks from Total Home Supply in the coming weeks!