Why line up at a busy garden centre this year when it comes time to plant your own vegetable or herb garden? You can easily start your seedlings at home for far less money, and a lot more enjoyment. Having a garden is not only economical and environmentally friendly, it’s a fantastic hobby to be enjoyed all spring, summer & even fall. It also gets us outdoors more and living our healthiest lives, which is another great thing we love about the Collingwood, Blue Mountain, Wasaga Beach, Meaford and Grey County area! After the long winter we just had, let’s ‘bring on spring’ and get those little seedlings off to a great start. Check out these handy tips here:
Where to get your seeds
You can buy seeds at most grocery or garden stores, or you also order them online. Are you into heirloom, artisan, or specially-grown varieties? You can find those online too. A lot of people are surprised to learn that you can save your seeds from any yummy vegetables or fruit that you eat throughout the year and plant them at home, if our climate allows. All you need to do is dry out a few seeds, put them in a paper envelope labelled carefully, and wait until spring arrives to start them. For any garden plants you are hoping to start, make sure they can grow in our climate – all seed packages will list this information, or you can research it online. Even a climate a few degrees colder or warmer can make or break the success of your garden.
Timing is everything
For most annual vegetables, you can sow them indoors approximately 6 weeks before the last frost, which in our region, is around the May 24 long weekend. Don’t start those seeds too early or they won’t get the right amount of outdoor sunshine when they need it most. For flowers and herbs, be sure to read the package on when to start growing.
How does your garden grow?
All you need to get your seedlings started is some tiny pots or containers to put them in. You can buy these at the store, or better yet, make your own seed starter pots using recycled items from around your home such as coffee cups, paper towel rolls or even egg shells. If you want to have an organic garden, then be sure to start your seeds with non-fertilized soil. Here are some more tips for getting those seeds off to a great start: 1. Don’t over crowd the seeds in one pot. One or two at a time should do it. 2. Plant them fairly shallowly in the starter pot – typically two to three times their width is recommended to determine the depth. 3. Make sure you have warmth (between 65F and 75F) and LOTS of great light for them as they are starting to grow. Don’t let them get too cold. 4. Label everything carefully (popsicle sticks work great). Don’t skip this step, because all seedlings start to look the same and you won’t know what or where to plant your seedlings. Use a permanent marker, as pen will fade with moisture and sunlight. 5. Keep the soil damp, but don’t over or under water. Those little seedlings are super fragile! 6. Be sure to “harden-off” your seedlings a week to ten days before planting in the ground. This step involves putting them outside for a few hours every day, gradually exposing them to more sunshine, rain and windy conditions. This will acclimatize them and essentially ‘toughen them up’. The soil will dry out quickly so keep an eye on it.
Time to get planting!
As you get nearer to your big planting day, be sure to check the weather forecast to avoid any chance of frost. You’ll want to prepare your garden with a good weeding, loosening of the soil and tidying up. You can add some aged compost, peat moss, or manure depending on your soil. When you’re ready to plant, try to pick a cloudy time so those little seedlings aren’t too overwhelmed by the hot sun on their big debut. You can stick the labels alongside your plants and be sure to fence off areas where critters and pets can do damage. You can use chicken wire, store bought mini-fencing options, or any DIY ways to protect those precious plants. All that’s left to do is enjoy your summer and the ‘fruits’ of your hard work!
Putting down roots
If you’re searching for the perfect home to start your garden or any other grand adventure you have planned, be sure to connect with us. The spring market is heating up in the Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach, Meaford and Georgian Triangle area, and our experienced Realtors® at Clairwood Real Estate are here to get you started! Call today at 705-445-7085, and let’s help you put down roots in our region.