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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Starting Seeds Indoors

Having recently hosting 2 workshops on container planting, I cannot help but think that it is time to start thinking about starting some seedlings indoors!

Now is the best time, given that Vancouver's Seedy Saturday is being held on Feb. 27th at the VanDusen Garden. Why not try growing your own food garden this year? With the price of fruit and vegetables growing, this is one way to beat the cost! The only down side, is patience and your time! But it will be well worth it!

Leanne Zmud facilitating Container Food Gardening Workshop
Photo: Meghan Cooke

Now why is growing your own food important to food security? 

Well, for one, you have access to really cool plants that you just don't find as seedlings. The variety of seeds (and heirloom varieties) is much more than what you find in the plant stores. The cost for a pack of seeds ranges from 99 cents to $5 per package. The ability to harvest what you grow, whether it is on a balcony, your community garden or your own plot of land? Priceless.

Plus this is a great way to get kids involved in having them grow their own food. The easiest seeds to start with are:

  • Tomatoes - try the cherry variety as they are widely available
  • Strawberries - why not try the alpine (white) varieties
  • Peas
  • Lemon Cucumbers - seen at some farmer's market but rarely at your grocery chain store
  • Lettuce 

Tips for starting your seeds indoors

Make sure if you are starting your seeds indoors to start at the appropriate time. Not sure when to start? Check out West Coast Seed's Planting Charts. A great resource for every gardener!

Use appropriate containers that are clean. Not too small and not too big. Don't forget to label what you planted. When the seedlings pop up, it may be hard to figure out what seed was what!

You may want to partner up with a friend or neighbour when buying seeds. Each package contains far more seeds that what is needed! Besides, its a great way to pool resources, further cutting down on the cost of gardening! At Vancouver's Seedy Saturday, they sometimes will have a seed swap. So, if you have some seeds bring them and see if you can trade them for some other vegetable or fruit to try growing.

Use seedling mix. Not potted soil. Also, not too much water. You only want the seeds to be moist so that it starts to germinate.  Most seed packages have the instruction on how to plant the seeds. Once it has germinated, it will need some sunlight to grow, so you may want to move your seedlings to a light source.

Most importantly, have fun! Growing seeds indoors is a great way to involve kids in understanding where foods come from and to taste the different varieties that they have grown. I have seen white, orange to "zebra" striped tomatoes...each with subtle differences in their taste. You could even have your own tasting of different veggies in the late summer or fall, when they are ready to harvest. For those who are adventurous, you can try saving some seeds!

There are a lot of resources online or through your local library (ours is Burnaby Public Library and those librarians are a great resource in helping you find any gardening book) about growing your own seeds indoors and on a rainy day (which is a lot of those at the moment), it would be a great activity for anyone (or the whole family to agree on which plants to grow)...even if it is just one container on your patio! Happy planting!

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