video tutorials, tried-and-true tips + our latest learnings to surround you with abundance all season long
Starting seeds is equally an experience of joy, anticipation and patience with anxiety right around the corner. How old were those seeds? Should I water less? More? Why haven't they come up yet? Am I running out of time?
Some seeds are easy to germinate (thank you, lettuce!) while others are more complicated (we still love you, tomatoes!) and some are just flat-out challenging (we see you, arnica!).
Here are 5 keys to optimize your germination with confidence, Friends!
Most seeds only need to be sown twice their depth, so it's incredibly easy to sow seeds too deep. When a seed germinates with too much soil above it, they may take longer to emerge and may well not emerge, alas.
Some seeds like strawflower, snapdragon and skullcap require light to germinate so be sure look on the packet for any specific instructions indicating such. We share a list of the most common seeds that need light to germinate on page 28...
You can start seeds in virtually anything that a) holds potting mix and b) drains excess water.
That being said, some containers are better than others.
Though creativity & resourcefulness are essential, now more than ever, it’s equally important to know the pros & cons of seed starting approaches.
Starting seeds is such a joy...and it's deceptively easy.
There are as many ways to garden as there are gardeners, but too many garden ‘hacks’ focus on the ‘wow!’ factor & not the fact that there are very real limitations as well as better approaches to consider.
I’ve already received hundreds of photos of struggling seedlings this spring , it’s simply not as easy as it seems. The worst ones by far are in egg cartons & jiffy pots — foreshadowing! — but don’t let me get ahead of myself :)
Certainly, there are many variables. High-quality light & potting mix are key, as is not starting too soon (the classic...
The Dutch have been developing modern soil blocking for nearly a century. Planting seeds into cubes of soil was documented 2,000 years ago in Central America, as well.
I love soil blocks for the remarkable health of transplants compared to their cousins grown in cell trays. And they’re fun to make! Plus, if you take care of your soil blockers, they will last decades if not generations.
Brilliantly, potting mix is both the container and the growing medium of a soil block. Since (most) roots evolved to grow into dark soil rather than bright air, seedlings will naturally air-prune themselves in soil blocks. This maximizes their soil volume (which is much more than a cell in a tray could offer) and prevents seedlings from becoming root-bound. For decades and without question, soil blocking is my favorite way to grow seedlings.
The best soil for soil blocking is at about half coconut coir or peat moss, which is heart-breaking because neither are particularly renewable,...
In our gardens and in our lives, timing is everything.
And Friends, it is so easy to start seeds way too early.
My dear friend Sal and I created a planting calendar for you to help nail your timing this season!
It's counter-intuitive, but plants started too early often get stressed (too little light, too few nutrients) and thus produce later and less abundantly than younger plants that are less stressed.
So hold your horses, dear Friends!
And here is our calendar for Zones 4 through 6 to keep you on track:
Each online order this season will receive one of our planting calendars, as well :)
You'll find a ton of information on this chart and each of our packets are mini-encyclopedias of information, as well. In addition to longer growing instructions, there is a quick reference tab with some pretty handy advice to have at arm's length. You'll find plant spacing after thinning, whether to direct sow or transplant (or both), days to germination, when to sow and seeding...
Daffodils bloom, wood frogs sing! As robins pull worms from the warming soil, here are ten easy seeds to sow in May.
The classic harbinger of spring, peas are sown as soon as your soil can be worked. (What does that mean? Check out this video.) Some years we sow peas in March. Other years, it's May. All seasons have their advantages and disadvantages. Everything's grand or everything's not grand: you choose. I digress.
Peas tolerate cool seasons better than most plants in your garden. To some extent, the earlier you plant your peas the earlier you'll harvest peas. Keep in mind: peas developing in cooler temperatures will be sweeter and more tender than those developing in the heat of summer. So tuck them in quick! And whatever you do, please resist starting them indoors; peas absolutely despise having their sensitive root systems uprooted. Most of us can relate.
To extend your pea harvest this season, sow both dwarf and full-size...
Tomatoes are quintessential summer. Whether it's fresh salsa from the garden, a satisfying slice on a sandwich or dropping wedges onto the top of a frittata just as it enters the oven, tomatoes are one of the simplest ways to make me smile in any season.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Chiapas is always the first and last tomato we harvest. Super early, super productive and super disease resistant, it's also super delicious.
Honey Drop ripens right after Chiapas & is lusciously sweet, similar to Sungold in both flavor and size. The biggest difference? Sungold is an F1 Hybrid owned by a multinational corporation while Honey Drop is open-pollinated (so its saved seed will grow true to type) and is owned by no one, so we all have access and will for generations.
Gold Medal has remained one my favorite tomatoes for decades. It's massive! With flavor rich and fruity, it's cross-section is marbled red, orange and yellow....
With snow still on the ground and freezing nights long from over, it's finally time to sow the first seeds!
Sowing alliums is certainly a sign that spring has nearly sprung.
The ideal window to sow onions, leeks & seeded shallots here in Zone 5 is mid-February to mid-March. No need to rush, you've got time to gather everything you need to make it easy. Growing great seedlings is one of the best ways to ensure you'll truly reap what you sow.
And don't worry, it's not time to start everything. In fact, most seeds sown this early would be sown weeks (& months!) too soon, here in Zone 5.
The only seeds to sow in February are allium seeds. The Allium family (thanks for the great name, Linneus) include onions, leeks, shallots, chives and garlic. Garlic and vegetative shallots are planted in fall and chives can wait 'til April, but the first three are best sown mid-February to...
Many gardeners want to start seeds more successfully, so my friend Sal and I created this gorgeous infographic for you:
...the LED grow light that we use? Here.
...easy to use soil blockers to make gorgeous soil blocks? Here.
...organic potting soil? Here.
...a heat mat that will change my life? Here.
And for our Ultimate Seed Starting Collection, head here.
Dreaming of the season ahead, my dear friend Kc inspired me to make a list of the 7 essential things she needed to know to start seeds well...
...then I'm scheming to make supper with my dear friend Sal, whose illustrations are as vivid and whimsical as her gardens and stories. Eureka! Sal and I had SO much fun laughing and learning as we brought to life the 7 Essentials of Seed Starting through visual story.
Welcome to Sal's Garden!
Petra: Whose advice do you always listen to?
For years we’ve been asked to demystify seed starting and here it is: Rise & Shine shares everything you need to start seeds successfully at home in 40 beautiful pages with easy-to-follow instructions and insightful tips for the novice and experienced grower alike.