How To Start Vegetable Seeds
Today I'm going to show you how to get your seeds started for your fall vegetables.
You can start vegetable seeds in just about any container you have available. Whether it's an egg carton or the containers from your grocery store delicatessen, even to the flats and six packs you save from your spring and summer flowers that you buy at your garden centers. The only requirement is the bottom of the container allow adequate drainage so we don't have seeds sitting in saturated soil. That'll lead to fungal issues and a condition called damping off as the seeds germinate. What I've done with this flat is line it with paper towels so it'll hold soil and allow adequate drainage at the same time. So, all we have to do is fill this flat with our soil until it's level and then pre-moisten the soil. And again, with compost and a mixture of vermiculite and Pro-Mix, moistening the soil ahead of time won't be a problem.
If the vegetable produces small seeds, it's best to start by broadcasting the seeds over a flat that's already been filled with soil. So, we can just put a thin layer of soil on top and we don't have to worry about planting depth. Lettuces are an excellent example of a vegetable that produces small seeds. So we're just simply going to broadcast the seeds over the surface and water them in. Okay, so what we're going to do is open the seed packet and because these seeds are so small we'll be careful not to have too many seeds in any one place across the surface of the soil. So, we want to distribute them as evenly as we can. And as you can see, these seeds are no not only small, but they're dark colored. So, that means there're going to be difficult to see once they hit the soil. Okay, now the seeds are in, and all we have to do is cover them with a thin layer of soil. Lettuce seeds, celery seeds and other types of fall vegetables might need light for germination, so we don't want to cover them too thick – just enough so they don't wash away when we water them in, and we absolutely will water them in so they can start imbibing water. That will start the germination process.
Swiss chard is basically a beet that doesn't produces the bulbous root. And they're seeds – what we call seeds anyway — that have several small seeds attached to them. So, in effect we are planting a fruit. Now, swiss chard needs to be planted at about 1/4 of an inch deep, and I'm using a craft stick that's been pre-marked against a ruler at 1/4 of an inch. This way I know exactly how deep I'm making the hole and how deep the seed is planted. So, I'll just come in and make the hole. And again, because the stick has been marked, I don't have to worry about planting these seeds too deep. We're planting two because almost inevitably one won't germinate or will be a weaker seedling, and we'll simply pull that seedling out and have the stronger seedling remaining. And now all we have to do is come in with our fingertips and cover these seeds like so, and they're ready to be watered in.
So, starting seeds for your fall vegetable garden — or any time of the year for that matter — can be just as simple as that. For State-by-State Gardening and the LSU Ag Center, I'm Kerry Heafner.