What is all involved in starting seeds early? Well you'll want some kind of container(s), potting mix or special seed starter mix, markers and your seeds. That's pretty much it. Of course, before you get to this point you'll want to have your garden roughly planned with what kind of vegetables and how many. Tip: I often plant an extra or two in the event one doesn't germinate or grow well.
In the past, my mom has ended up with seed trays scattered around her house that she moves in and out(when the weather warms up). Due to kids and cats, I take advantage of having her close so I don't have to mess with seed trays in my house! This year she purchased this awesome cart at Lowe's for about $50. It will fit 12 trays and has a cover that goes over the whole thing. It's fantastic and worth it if you're planning a large garden.
Here is the mess we start with: boxes and buckets of seeds, our garden plans(love my grid paper!) a bag of potting mix and the seed trays.
I find it very helpful to have my garden planned on grid paper. That way I can draw it to scale and determine how much of each vegetable I can fit in and where best to locate them.
Empty seed trays! We saved the containers from last year- some from our local nursery when I bought annual flowers to plant. These are great because they are a little larger than some you'll find at your local home improvement store. Larger well = more space for your seedlings to grow and be healthy.
After filling the pots with the mix, we set about marking each plant with the variety and who's it is(M = Mom, S = Stacy). This is really important to do with a permanent marker! Pen will fade in the sun and then it is frustrating trying to figure out A. what the plant is and B. who needed it. Ask me how I know. *wink*
Your seed packets will tell you the depth each seed needs planted and how they should be spaced in the garden. That is where it becomes necessary to know your garden's dimensions so as to determine the amount of plants you can fit in the space.
After the dirt, seeds and markers, all that is left is a drink of water! You'll want to soak the soil and then set the trays in your sunniest, warmest spot in the house. Kids especially enjoy watching them germinate and as they get bigger and the temperatures improve outside, you'll want to put them outside during the day and bring them in at night. We can get into that more later. It's a process called 'hardening off' and helps the seedlings survive transplant shock when they outgrow their little pots and need to be put in the ground.
What seedlings did we start?
Green, orange and red bell peppers, jalapeños, eggplant, parsley, cilantro, basil, kale, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, baby bok choy, brussel sprouts, cantelopes and tomatoes. Some would argue a few of these can go right in the ground as seeds when the last frost date has passed- and that is true. But we're experimenting this year both in starting seeds earlier and in starting some varieties indoors. My hope is that this will lengthen our growing season and increase our yields. Gardening is one big experiment; don't be afraid to try new things!