Lately, I’ve gotten several questions about the best way to start seeds in the ground, also called straight sown seeds. (Of course, I don’t DO straight lines, so that is a bit of an oxymoron at my house…..) I don’t know that my way is the BEST, but it works well for me. I’m open to suggestions – and welcome royalties from a patent partnership – if you’ve found one that’s better.
First off, be sure you’re planting the seeds at the proper depth. If they’re from a packet, it should tell you how deep to put them in; as a general rule, seeds and bulbs require planting between double – and – triple their height. (Here’s my friend WILLIAM MOSS with Patti Moreno showing you how it’s done with veggies.) If you’ve planted them properly, you’ll start seeing green several days or weeks – or even months – before they are established well-enough to become actual rooted plants. During that time, the underworks are branching out to support the upperworks, making it vital you baby those fragile seedlings. I find the main protection my new seedlings need are actually from ME, though. Forgetting I’ve put seeds down, I mulch over that bare spot. Or I can’t remember what I put there because the tag is missing. Sometimes a heavy downpour is the culprit and my seeds end up down the street.
I used to stack rocks, cairn-like, stick a flag in it with the plant name, and cross my fingers as I walked away. Either the flag, the rocks, or both ended up missing.
Now I hold on to all those small pots when I buy plants at the nursery and recycle them into seed starting studs. I use a few the traditional way, but what works even better is making them into a TEXAS-STYLE SEEDLING CORRAL. I cut the bottom out, turn ’em upside down, and write down the plant’s name and the date I planted it with a silver marker. Then I bury it partially into the ground, up and over the “lip” that used to be the top of the pot. Then I add a bit of potting soil and push the seeds into place. I’m always looking for activities to lure in kids to gardening and think this might be a great one for little ones to try. (As a bonus, this method allows me to know exactly where I need to mist when it dries out, and it holds in the water for longer. And this isn’t proven, but it seems the black color of the pot absorbs the day’s heat and gets my seedlings going faster in early spring.)
You might want to cut the perimeter away once the seedlings are up….
or just leave it in place so you remember those bulbs are there even when they aren’t in bloom.
WARNING: if a varmint wants those seeds, even an armed guard can’t stop ’em! Need proof?