Even though the ground outside is still frozen, we are already growing seedlings in the greenhouse at the farm, including onion, leek, tomato, herbs, and other cruciferous vegetables. At home, you can do the same on the edge of a sunny windowsill! Here are some tips and tricks for starting your own seedlings from our Farm co-manager, Samuel.
Four key elements to know
For so many people, starting seedlings can be stressful. There are many little things to know in order to ensure your seedlings thrive. But it’s actually not that complicated to start seedlings, and nobody should be afraid of it. We just have to remember that plants need four things: water, air, light and food. Here are the basics for providing these four elements to our plants:
Too much is just like not enough. The soil should never be dripping wet when we press it together in our fingers. Equally, the soil should never be dry. The best way to get good moisture in the soil is to touch it often to feel its moisture. You also have to water more when it’s sunny than when it’s cloudy.
All parts of the plants need air, even the roots. That’s why we shouldn’t water excessively. The air also has to be warm. To germinate, most seeds need a temperature between 20°C to 25°C. A small plastic dome can help to create a greenhouse effect at home.
This is often the most difficult part: finding the best window. And sometimes there is just no good window to give enough light. You’ll notice your plants need more light if they become very long and thin (that’s what we call blanching). If so, you can add artificial light using a neon light.
Plants eat minerals that are dissolved in the water in the soil. If the soil is too dry, the plant won’t be able the get these minerals. A good soil includes compost and manure to give the amount of food the plant needs. You can find both of these in the General Store at the Roulant!
When to start?
To find out when in the year to start your seeds, look at this seed and planting calendar adapted for the Montreal region provided by Espace Pour La Vie. Be careful if you find a calendar for Europe because they seed earlier than we do in Montreal!
Don’t worry – if you don’t end up growing seedlings this year, you can come by the Roulant to purchase seedling in June! Or if you don’t have a garden, you can sign up for an organic veggie basket and receive produce from our farm all season long.