Seeding Vegetables For Summer Harvest

seeds in trays

Why is there so much fuss about seeding? Is it rocket science? Seeds have been grown since the beginning of time, yet we all dither and wring our hands about “is it time?” I have come to the conclusion that all one really needs is the West Coast Seed Catalogue, and Linda Gilkeson’s book Backyard Bounty .

Of course there are many other seed companies, and many delectable varieties only available from obscure sources, but you get my gist.

My honourable co-worker Lynne has stated the obvious, it’s still too cold and wet outside to direct seed, but in our short growing season most things seem to do better if started indoors anyway.

It’s April 2, and pouring rain. Music playing, and a cup of tea in hand, I seeded part of my summer crop today, in my dining room.

I’m learning so much in Linda’s class at Glendale, and one of the most surprising things is that while seeds need the heat to germinate, the seedlings actually grow more dense and bushy if grown on at cooler temperatures.   So once a crop is up and off to a good start, it’s time to start hardening off, weather permitting. An unheated greenhouse or cold frame is the best place to start.  At first, I was hauling all the trays in every night, but that was too much effort; I now give “tough love” to all my seed babies; they are now sleeping in the greenhouse at night.

For the potting medium I use a starter mix such as ‘Islands Finest Starter Mix’. (Confession: I do not sterilize my seeding trays. I do blast them clean outside with the hose, however.)

So far I’ve got beets, leeks, spinach and lettuce seedlings in the greenhouse, and today planted the warmer weather plants.

Seeds in trays.

Tomatoes and basil are in the Jiffy Starter Trays from the nursery, this is a clean and complete way to start. Since the actual planting holes are quite small, it works well for my system of potting on into 4”, then larger pots. By late May my basil and tomato plants are in the greenhouse with large root masses, ready for their final transplant.

The Lemon Cucumber seeds go into larger pots or trays with huge planting holes, as cucumbers resent root disturbance, yet need to wait for the warmer weather.

Linda sent along her great idea for pea germination in her “Linda’s List” email, (which anyone can register for on her website) that is to start them in milk cartons with vermiculite for the planting medium.

Peas (germinating) in vermiculite.

It’s easy to remove the seedlings from the vermiculite without root damage, and they will be off to a good start when I plant them outside, probably within a week or two. It’s just for germination, remember. I’ll recycle the vermiculite in my container plantings, as it lightens the soil and retains moisture.

I love to grow seeds for friends, nurturing them (the seeds, not the friends) until ready to plant outside. I plant way too many seeds and love every tiny one of them.

Let me know how yours are doing— any tips?