Hot to Start Seed Indoors (Part 3 of 6): Seed Starting Containers
By: Maureen Gilmer
You can spend a lot of money buying kits and containers specially made for starting seed indoors. If you want to grow more for less, try germinating seed in recycled containers and save your money to buy quality Black Gold potting soils. The biggest challenge when germinating seed is keeping the soil evenly moist, but not wet. Let it go dry for just a day or two, and those tender young sprouts may wither. If you’re busy with the kids or gone at work all day, you won’t be able to rescue temporarily wilted sprouts. This means they suffer long enough to go into permanent wilt, which is irreversible. In dry climates the evaporation rates can double, making these regions the hardest places to grow anything from seed. One of the most common failures is due to sowing seed directly into deeper pots of soil. It’s because the surface of a larger soil mass quickly dries out while deeper down it may be very wet, even saturated. When you rewet the surface soil where seeds lie, you risk further saturation deeper down, which stimulates fungal diseases.
For this reason, accomplished gardeners germinate their seed in shallow containers with a clear or translucent plastic top. Recycled clear plastic take-out food containers are ideal. Either way, the ability to close the top greatly reduces the rate of surface evaporation thereby maintaining moist conditions without applying more water. Just make sure there are holes in the top and bottom for oxygen and free drainage. For larger projects, consider using shallow under-bed storage boxes or try covering the top of any open nursery flat with food wrap to trap moisture. The goal of all these choices is to turn the container into a miniature greenhouse environment where seeds keep warm, stay evenly moist, and will be quick to germinate. Within this environment, control temperature and moisture levels by opening and closing the lid all or part way. This allows more or less air exchange during periods of wet or dry weather.
Fill the bottom with a few inches of damp Black Gold Seedling Mix, which is actually a sterile soil-less media. Into this sow your seed. Once up and growing, each seedling will soon be transplanted into its own growing container. For this second stage use six packs or four inch pots and Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil. The most important part of starting the garden indoors is your choice of containers. The right one makes this easy to do, but the wrong choice can leave you perpetually struggling to keep moisture and warmth at optimal levels. Yes, it may be easier to get started with an expensive growing kit, but you’ll pay for it. Why not reuse free plastic containers from salad boxes to yogurt cups to help the environment. Or use all those containers you saved from previous season’s nursery grown bedding plants. There’s no need to spend your money on anything except quality seed, starting media and organic potting soil to get your garden off to a screaming start indoors this year.