Buying and Growing Seeds

seed catalogues

Neil Roberts

I have been growing my own plants from seed for about 10 years and I find it interesting and an enjoyable pastime in the cold winter months. It does not have to be expensive and you may even save some money. You can grow annuals or perennials and there are hundreds of flowers and vegetables to choose from.

To start your seeds you will need, a nice sunny window or some fluorescent lights, or both. Use soiless mix to grow your seeds since garden dirt has too many diseases or bugs that will kill your new plants. You need some sort of a container to put the soiless mix in; the best thing is a flat growing tray that can be purchased at local stores. They can be washed and reused for many years.

Once you have decided to grow some plants, you must then choose what you are going to grow. Start with an easy one and see if you are going to like growing plants from seed. I think the easiest plant would be a marigold. They are popular plants that you do not have to start too early, about 6 weeks before last frost, and you will gain some growing experience. Other examples would be Calendula, Asters, Alyssum, and Cosmos.

There are many places to get seeds, in seed catalogues, stores or nurseries. I buy mine mostly from seed catalogues from a variety of companies. They come in the mail in late fall or early in the New Year. What a great time to sit down and plan your garden! I like to get my seeds from seed catalogues only because I can buy the seeds by the hundreds and they are cheaper that way.

What are the advantages to growing your own plants? The first advantage is that it is a hobby that I enjoy to fill the long winter days with my favourite past time, gardening. You will probably have to buy some lights and materials so there is a cost to start but over the years you will probably save some money. You will be able to grow plants that you would not normally see for sale so you will have flowers and vegetables that your neighbours do not. You will be able to choose from more colours and shades and a greater variety of vegetables and you will be able to get a head start on the growing season.

When you are ready to plant, read the back of the package they came in and follow the instructions carefully. Fill the flats to about inch from the top, and do not pat it down too firmly, as your plants need air in the soil. The soiless mix should be moist but not too wet. Make rows in the flat and plant your seeds, remembering to give them some room to grow. If the instructions on the back, instruct you to cover the seeds remember they should be buried about 3 or 4 times their own diameter. I cover the seeds with vermiculite but that is not necessary. Cover the flat with a plastic cover that you can buy or use plastic wrap. Check your seeds every day and keep the soil damp not wet. When the seeds sprout take the cover off and water from the bottom if you can. Fertilize twice a week with strength 10-52-10 water-soluble fertilizers. Plants need at least 8 hours of darkness each day to process their food and grow. In a few weeks the plants may be getting too crowded so you may have to separate to another flat. In early May or when the weather is warm take your flats outside and place them in the shade. Give them a little more sunshine each day until they have acclimatized themselves to the sun. Bring them indoors at night if it turns too cold. Plant outdoors after all danger of frost has passed, usually after the Victoria Day weekend in this area.

I think one of the most satisfying things a person can do is plant a seed and witness it become a beautiful flower or a delicious vegetable.

" He who sees things grow from the beginning will have the best view of them " ARISTOLE