I would prefer to grow my veggies by seeds. It is cheaper, we can grow more varieties than what we might find locally, and it would enable us to start with heirloom seed instead of the hybrids that are available at the local nursery.
However, I’ve not ever had much success with starting plants by seeds. Years ago we set up a table with a hot light. They grew but they were spindly. Since then we’ve not had a place to dedicate to seeds. I did grow some nice bean plants last year from seed, but usually we have just purchased plants when it was time to set out the garden.
But this year, I thought I would try again. We purchased a lot of heirloom seeds by mail order last fall. I looked up my local extension office to find planting instructions for each. I even had honeyman build me a very nice cold frame. I was all set to plant my seeds.
We can plant most summer crops around 4/15 here in central NC. So I counted back 8 weeks and started the seeds around mid-February and put them in the cold frame.
This is my first time using a cold frame so I wasn’t up on all the rules. For instance, I didn’t know that when it was sunny and 50 degrees outside that you needed to open the windows and vent it. When I finally figured that part out, I realized that sunny and 50 degrees outside meant 90-100 degrees inside the cold frame! Who knew the windows would make it that much hotter when the sun shines in. In addition, I wasn’t aware that the pots would dry out faster and require more watering. Well, maybe I could have figured that out, but with working 12-14 hours days at the time, there were many days I didn’t get outside to check on them. So, three weeks after planting, there was nothing. It was like a barren desert.
So, I replanted. And this time I followed the rules. I watered them more often and I vented the windows. Jump ahead two weeks… well, I guess you can’t call it nothing, but it’s close enough. The collards are up and there a couple of little sprouts of herbs.
So, I thought maybe I had bad seed. I read online that you can tell bad seed from good seed by soaking them overnight in water. Good seed are supposed to sink to the bottom, and bad seed are supposed to float. So I set up little cups of water and put different seeds in each.
By the next morning, 99% of the seed had sunk to the bottom. So that means the seeds are good right? So I planted the seeds that had been soaking all night. I thought having soaked in water all night would give them a head start and they should sprout even faster. I had put more in each cup than I thought I needed because I didn’t expect 99% of them to be good. Therefore, I ended up with more pots than I had originally planted due to the fact that I had extra seeds soaked. I certainly didn’t want to waste them.
Back in the cold frame they went, well watered this time.
I haven’t completely given up hope on the seeds, but since planting time is just 3-4 weeks away I’m beginning to wonder if I should put money aside in the budget to buy some plants.