Fall planning is here! It’s time to start your fall transplants to get a jump on the growing season. If you’ve never started your own transplants before, check out our short how-to video to get you on your way.
Starting seeds might be easier than you think. Besides the benefit of saving money, you are able to pick varieties that are better suited to your geographic area, or harder to find commercially available. You can find the 36 varieties of open-pollinated (heirloom) seeds for Fall planting that we are using at Redi Local Market & Venue. We always use heirloom seeds so that we can save seeds for the next year.
To begin, start with good soil. You can buy a bagged potting or seed starting mix (preferably organic). We like to use our own compost, screened with 1/4″ hardware cloth.
You can buy seed starting trays, use peat pots, Don’t be fooled into thinking you need anything special or fancy here. I have even used old cans with holes drilled in the bottom and set into tin foil trays. You just need small containers with drain holes and some tray to hold them.
After filling the trays with soil, plant 2 seeds in each hole. Seeds are planted at a depth of 4 times their height, so don’t plant them too deep. Gently cover with soil and water.
Be sure to label your seed transplants well. I like to use white plastic knives broken in half or pieces of blinds. Use a permanent market to label the plant variety.
Find a safe place inside that you can set your seeds up. A simple shop light is all the light you need. The light will need to be on for 16 hours a day, so a timer is a helpful and worthwhile investment. LED lights are ideal as they put off less heat and don’t dry soil out so fast. Keep the light 2-3 inches off of the plants as they are growing.
In 6-8 weeks, your transplants will be ready to plant. I like to harden my transplants off a few weeks before planting. To harden plants off, move them outside to a shady spot for an hour on the first day. The next day, set them out for 2 hours in the shade. The third day, set them out for 3 hours. Keep this up for a week. The next week, set them for an hour in direct sun, then several hours in the shade. The next day, set them for 2 hours in the sun, and so on. This will help your tender transplants adjust to being outside in full sun when it’s time to put them in the garden.