The weather is warming up, days are getting longer, and you may have started to get the itch to go play in the dirt. If you love gardening, being patient for the ideal time to plant can be torturous!
Did you know that you can start your gardening earlier in the season by sprouting from seeds? It is a satisfying way to curb those spring cravings.
There is something so satisfying in starting your garden from seed. Watching them grow from the time that they first break through the soil, to harvesting and enjoying their fruit, makes it one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening!
Where to Start
If you have never sprouted seeds before, it is best to pick just a few varieties to start with. When to start your seedlings will depend on the type of plants that you choose, and your planting zone, see seed packet for details. Some great starter plants that we suggest are:
Tomatoes are perhaps one of the most rewarding plants to grow, from seed. They are hardy, easy to grow, and very productive. By giving them the best water and nutrients, they will produce healthy, fragrant and delicious fruit that will put supermarket tomatoes to shame.
Basil is one of the most common herbs used in everyday cooking and comes in multiple varieties. Basil is delightfully fragrant and is; wonderful paired with fruit, in your infused Berkey water recipes, and of course in delicious Italian cuisine.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of starting your garden from seed is that it can be much more economical. Seeds are generally much cheaper than buying plants, and you get so many more for the cost. You also don’t need any fancy equipment, just something to grow it in, soil, light, and great quality water!
Why Berkey water?
Berkey Filters remove more than 200 contaminants from the water, including pesticides, and chlorine. Your seedlings will absorb the water from the soil, and everything that is in the water source. Using high-quality water that is free from toxins, gives them the best start from the get-go. Not only is it best for your plants, but also for you when you finally get the sweet reward of enjoying the harvest.
How to Start
Follow these basic steps and you will be on your way to becoming a seed sprouting pro:
1. Purchase your seeds! You can get them at almost any big-box store, hardware store, or specialty shop. They are easy to find for as low as $1.99 per package.
2. Now you need to find something to grow them in. You can get commercial sprouting kits, peat pots, or go the DIY route and use milk cartons (cardboard), egg cartons (non-styrofoam), or even toilet paper rolls. You want to go with an option that will bio-degrade. We recommend using peat pots. Peat pots are one of the most popular choices and are more economical than fancy starter kits.
3. When selecting your soil, do not be tempted to re-use soil from your houseplants or yard! You will want to choose a soil that is made specifically for growing seedlings. It should be a sterile mix that will keep your plant babies from disease.
4. Make sure that the soil is moist, but not wet to start. How deep you need to plant the seeds will vary based on the type of plant. Make sure to follow the directions on the seed packet.
5. After your seeds are planted, use a small spray bottle filled with Berkey® water to moisten the soil.
6. Cover your newly planted seeds with plastic wrap to hold in the moisture, setting them near a south-facing window, or somewhere where they will get a LOT of natural light. Getting enough light will ensure that your seedlings will be strong and sturdy!
7. Check the moisture level daily and let the soil dry out slightly between waterings. When you water your seedlings, make sure that the soil is moist, but not super wet. You can also use an organic liquid fertilizer periodically.
8. Wait until your seedlings have at least 2-3 sets of leaves before starting to harden them off (transitioning them outside).
Harden Your Sprouts
When the time has come to let your babies spread their wings, make sure that you don’t just move them outside without preparing them to be on their own. When they are ready to be planted outside, you will want to “harden” them off. This is the process of gradually acclimating them to the outside world. Wait until your seedlings have at least 2-3 sets of leaves before starting to harden them off.
▪️ Seven to ten days before you move them outside permanently, start by letting them play outside in a shady location for a few hours a day, keeping them away from the wind.
▪️ Every day, lengthen the time that they are exposed to the outdoors.
▪️ Continue to keep them moist with Berkey water throughout this process.
▪️ When they are ready, make sure to plant them in good quality soil and follow the packet directions on planting depth and continued watering needs.