Give the gift of DIY with our fun and easy kits!
by Nika Kaiser 4 min read
Starting a vegetable or flower garden can happen any time of year, but most often garden seeds are started indoors in early Spring, about 6 weeks before the last frost date. A quick internet search can help you discover approximately when this will be in your area.
The easiest way to start seeds for your garden is indoors near a bright window with peat pellets and a mini greenhouse (these come included with our DIY Garden Kit for Kids). You can make a do-it-yourself greenhouse with an empty egg carton and plastic wrap, or use a plastic to-go container with a clear lid also works.
Let the soil soak in a tray or shallow dish filled with lukewarm water until they fully expand, about a half hour. Pour off the extra water and place each pellet upright, with the open side on top.
Fluff the surface of the pellet and sow seeds: For smaller seeds, add 3-5 per pellet. Slightly press seeds into the surface of the dirt. For big seeds, add 2 per pellet. Sowing depth is about twice the width of the seed.
Water them using a spray bottle or fine mist from a hose sprayer. If your seeds get displaced, gently press them back into the dirt and even out the soil. Use our included green, round stickers to mark the types of seeds by placing them on the outside of the seed tray or egg carton.
Cover the tray or carton with a clear top or plastic wrap to help maintain consistent humidity. Place your mini greenhouse in a warm spot with lots of light, like near a bright window or in an area outside with partial sun. If you place them outside be sure your greenhouse won’t get over 80°F and make sure night-time temperatures do not drop below 55°F.
If they've been indoors, it's best to let your young plants spend about a week getting used to outdoor light and temperatures before planting them in their final growing spot. This process is called hardening off.
Your seedlings should be transplanted into larger containers 2-3 weeks after your sprouts have come up. Transplant plants into the ground after they have 3-4 sets of true leaves. Wait until after the last frost to plant your seedlings outdoors or they will get too cold and could die. Also, make sure they are big enough to survive a nibble or two from local pests.
Place your plants in a sheltered shady spot outdoors such as under a tree or on a covered porch. Leave them for a few hours the first day and gradually increase the time spent outside, bringing the plants back indoors for the first few nights. After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into a place with partial sun. Keep an eye on the soil so that it doesn’t dry out.
They will likely need more water than they did when they were living indoors. Crack the lid of the greenhouse if the weather is warm enough to heat the greenhouse to over 85°F. Remove the lid completely once the evenings have warmed up. After a week, the plants should be used to the sun and the colder temperatures at night and are ready for transplanting.
Prepare your garden bed by turning over the soil with a trowel or rake. Most of your plants will grow best in well-drained fertile soil. Adding some compost or potting soil to the dirt found in your garden will improve your harvest. Think of compost as food for your plants. Potting soil usually has amendments in it, such as bark, peat moss, and sand to improve soil texture, moisture retention, and drainage. You can also amend your soil by adding these things directly into your garden without buying a pre-made mix.
Transplanting in cool, cloudy conditions or while your garden bed is in the shade is best. Dig a hole slightly larger than your peat pellet. Place the plant in the hole and gently pat the soil around the base of your plant to remove any air pockets. Thoroughly water your seedling. Use plastic or wooden garden markers to keep track of where you plant each variety.
🌱 Some things to be observant with when starting a garden:
Give your plants water regularly. Never let the soil dry out completely, but don’t keep the soil soggy either.
🌡Germination temp: Be aware, some vegetables prefer it warmer before they'll start to grow (e.g., watermelon), and others don't mind it being a little chilly (e.g., peas).
⏰Germination time:This is usually anywhere from 5 - 28 days, check the info that came with your seed pack for details.
📅 Days to harvest: When can you eat it? Radishes take about 20 days while pumpkins can take 3 - 4 months! Check your seed info.
📏Spacing:They might look tiny now, but vegetables need room to grow. Pay attention to how far apart they should be when grown. Carrots are okay with 4" between each plant, but zucchini and squash need 24" - 30"
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