How to Plant Seeds for the Garden
It’s not rocket science, but you do have to follow the directions on the seed packet…for instance: Depth to sow = 1/2″ which means to put the seed about a half an inch under the top of the soil. The easiest way to make sure you are getting the correct depth is to use a ruler the first few times you plant the seeds. Place the seed on top of the soil and use the top of the ruler to push it down into the soil to the correct depth.
In general, you will find that the larger the seed is, the deeper it will go in the soil and the smaller the seed is, the reverse is true. Herb seeds are famous for being extremely small and most of the time, I sow them by sprinkling the tiny seeds on top of the soil and then watering them. The seeds are so tiny that they will settle into the soil from watering. If a seed is sown too deep, it may not germinate properly and then deteriorate before it has a chance to thrive above ground.
Seeds will need somewhere between 65-80 degrees temperature to germinate (depending on the seed), so starting them indoors near a window sill will work. We build a temporary greenhouse each year that house hundreds of plants for our U-Pick Garden until the April 15th (last) frost date and then we transplant them into the ground. In the picture below we have over 1,000 seeds planted just on the left hand side of the greenhouse. The green trays have 108 cells and the black trays have 72 cells. We planted 5 varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and marigolds. On the other side of the greenhouse (not pictured) are peppers and many varieties of herbs. Special thanks go to our volunteer interns Sarah Cho and Kendall Pinkston for all their help this week!!!
Plants need three things to survive: nutrient rich soil, water and air. Using a good potting soil will get your seeds off to a good start. I like to use very small cells to plant my seeds and then transplant to larger containers after they have germinated and grow to about 1-2 inches tall (depending on the plant).
You want to keep your cells/trays moist but not wet and let them dry out in between. If your soil is too moist it can create mildew and mold which is a terrible environment for your new plants. If your soil is too dry, your seeds will not germinate…a fine line indeed!
Here are Broccoli seedlings that have popped up after 3 days. Seeds have different germination times, so check your packet for all the info.
Olin and Alaina Knott (MTSU Intern) after they built our temporary greenhouse this year. We reuse materials for several years which saves on cost.