It’s time to start thinking about starting your seeds

Published Mar 4, 2018 at 9:00am

It’s just a little early to actually start seeds indoors, but it’s not early to start thinking about what to plant, buying your seeds, and collecting the supplies you will need.

Starting vegetables indoors is becoming increasingly popular as people see the advantages of growing their own food.

Transplants are always a good option; however, why not consider starting your own plants. There are plenty of good reasons to start your own plants.

Seeds are obviously a more economical option. than buying already established plants.

Starting your own plants also allows you a bigger choice. Starting seeds indoors allows you to get a head start on a shorter outdoor growing season.

Start planning now by considering the following:

Make the Right Plant Selections

Growing from seed can open the door to more varieties. However, not all of them will grow well here. To be the most successful, it is important to make the right choices.

Cornell has a great resource, the Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners list.

Cornell also features feedback from other gardeners as well as guides on which vegetables grow best in New York State. See the Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners list for 2018 along with growing guides at the Cornell University gardening website at gardeningcals.cornell.edu. Click on “Garden Guidance” and then “Food Gardening” to see the list and other valuable information.

Get information on the latest heirlooms with details on insect and disease resistance.

Get Your Supplies Ready

Look at different seed catalogs that are available and start thinking about your selections. You will also need a lightweight soil-less seed starting mix; bagged commercial mixes are readily available. Do not use typical potting soils or garden soils; they are too heavy for the seeds.  

You will need containers. Typically, you want the containers to be about 3 inches deep with holes in the bottom for drainage. You can buy various types of seed-starting pots; or consider saving household items such as yogurt cups.

Milk cartons can be cut off and used as well as plastic salad greens containers; be sure to add drainage holes. Sterilize any reused containers with a 10% bleach solution.

Light and heat will be important to the seeds. Supplemental light will be necessary. There are many websites to give ideas on how to build a grow-light frame or you can purchase one. Investing in a temperature controlled heat mat designed for plants is an inexpensive, worthwhile purchase; seedlings need to be kept warm and the controlled warmth from a heat mat is your best solution.

Avoid the Urge to Start Too Early

Purchase seeds now, but starting them too early will result in weak plants. It is actually better to be later rather than earlier.

Remember that it is all about when you can put the seedlings in the ground based on the last spring frost. You do not want the seeds to stay inside for longer than they have to or they will be weak and leggy. The seed package along with Cornell’s website will give you the best information on when to start your seeds. For questions, call our Oneida CCE Horticultural Hotline at 315-736-3394, 9:00 am to noon, Wednesdays and Fridays.