Although it may be hard to believe right now, nevertheless spring is coming and it will soon be time to think about starting seeds for your outdoor vegetable garden. For many, this means preparing seed flats or pots in a suitable room or greenhouse. For others, it may not be as simple. What if you only have one window that provides suitable sunlight to start your vegetable seedlings?
The answer may be as simple as hanging baskets or flats and the use of decorative extended horizontal brackets.
The first thing is to select what type of container you want to use. This may be commonly found round plastic hanging baskets, which can be layered vertically down the side of a window. Alternatively, you may opt to make rectangular wooden box or flats and add peat pots if wanted. By placing an eyehook in each corner and attaching equally measured lengths of chain or cords, these flats will hang level from two brackets placed on either side of the window. The number of hanging baskets is determined only by the size of your window and how many brackets can be fastened down each side.
The growing medium may be bought commercially or made at home. Note that most potting soil has no real soil in it and is a combination of vermiculite, moss, and even paper with no nutritional value for plants. Once seedlings have sprouted, a liquid fertilizer can be used or transplant your seedlings into a soil based planting medium.
An equal part of good garden soil, vermiculite, and sand will make a good growing medium for your seeds. It is best to sterilize the garden soil and sand by placing a damp amount in a baking container and heating in an oven at 200 to 250 degrees or until a thermometer inserted in the soil registers 160 to 180 degrees. This will kill any insects, bacteria, mold, fungus, or unwanted weed seeds that are present in the soil.
Select your seeds from good reputable seed companies and you decide whether to grow heirloom or hybrid seeds or even seeds you have saved from the previous year. Although hybrids typically cost more, they are often specific disease resistant and they normally have a higher yield of produce during their growing season. Some good vegetable seeds to start indoors are tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, lettuce, cauliflower, chard, squash, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli.
Individual seeds should be planted at least one inch apart in order to successfully transplant them into your garden. The soil should be kept moist, warm and either plastic wrap or aluminum foil may be used to cover the container until the seeds germinate. When the seeds have developed at least two true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted. Follow instructions for outdoor planting times (normally found on the packaging) by starting your seeds 4 to six weeks prior to your estimated transplant period.
Using hanging baskets or boxes allow anyone to start their garden seedlings indoors with a minimum of space and a variety of seeds.
Starting Plants From Seeds, by Ray R. Rothenberger, Department of Horticulture
How to Start Seeds Indoors: What You’ll Need and When to Start, by Marie Iannotti