It’s time to seed your vegetables

Seedling tray
Credit: © Flickr (Lucy Crosbie)
Plateau de semis
It’s time to seed your vegetables

Want to grow lots of vegetables for not a lot of money? Looking for a particular rare or heirloom variety? Just feel like getting your hands dirty? Wait no longer! Seed your vegetables indoors, to be transplanted into your vegetable garden.

A sunny windowsill, a few pots, a bit of soil and some seedsare all you need to get your peppers, eggplants, lettuce, tomatoes and other plants growing. Depending on the type of vegetable, you will seed them between the beginning of March and the end of April. It is pointless to sow them any earlier, as they will wilt and be too old to be transplanted.

Where is the best place buy seeds from?

Most producers have secure websites where you can buy seeds. You will avoid a lot of problems by choosing disease-resistant varieties. In general, it is preferable to buy small quantities and renew your stock every year or two, as the viability of the seeds of most vegetables does not last very long.

The subsoil should be light, porous and have a good water retention capacity. Seeding soils favour germination but are not very rich in nutrients, so it is preferable to treat your plants periodically with a liquid fertilizer (e.g. a mixture of fish emulsion and liquid seaweed) if you are using the same soil for transplanting.

How to Seed indoors

Here is a simple five-step procedure.

Preparing the seeding bed: Fill the container up to 1–2 cm from the top. Level out the surface and tamp down slightly, because an even, firm subsoil will help ensure homogeneity in germination.

Sowing: Spread the seeds uniformly on the surface, cover with a thin layer of soil and press down lightly so that the seeds adhere well to the soil mixture. The smaller the seeds, the less they need to be covered. To avoid displacing the seeds, water by immersion: place the bottom of the container in water until the soil at the top is damp. If too dry at the start, it is preferable to moisten the soil before sowing.

Sowing to germination: Place the containers in a warm (21–24°C), humid spot until the plantlets emerge. Most seeds do not need sunlight to germinate, but it is important to get the moisture level of the subsoil right.It should remain damp without being saturated all the time. To maintain a constant level of humidity, place a glass plate or a plastic dome over the containers.

Germination to transplanting: Once the plantlets have emerged, remove the cover, place the containers near a sunny window and, if possible, lower the temperature by a few degrees. If the light intensity is not strong enough (as is often the case), it is beneficial to place these young seedlings under a lamp with two to four fluorescent tubes especially designed for growing plants. Since fluorescent lights do not generate much heat, the containers can be placed just a few centimetres below from the outset, before the plantlets emerge

Transplanting, acclimatization, garden planting: Young plants can be transplanted once they have developed two true leaves. Free the roots with a small stick while holding the plantlets by the leaves. They can be fertilized two weeks after being transplanted. The transition from indoors to outdoors should be progressive. We recommend seven to ten days of acclimatization, during which the plants are gradually exposed to outdoor conditions. Place the plants in a slightly shaded area, sheltered from prevailing winds. Bring them inside when the temperature is forecast to drop below 10°C.
Want to know more about seeding indoors? Continue reading on our website.

The Jardin botanique de Montréal’s horticultural information service.
Need help identifying a plant, or have a problem with cultivation, pests or disease? We invite you to fill out our online request form. Given the large volume of gardening questions we receive, please allow two to three weeks to receive an answer. You may also pursue your research by consulting our Green Pages.

Do you have questions about this blog?
Visit our Green Pages Or, go to the Horticultural information counter at the Jardin botanique for personalized service. One of our experts will be happy to give you more information.

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