Most varieties of certified organic seeds and heirloom seeds can be started indoors several weeks before the last frost. This is a great way to save money when compared to purchasing seedlings from greenhouses, but more importantly it lets you control what goes into the food you eat. Heirloom flowers can also be planted indoors and some varieties can be used to add color to salads, so again it is important to use organic seeds, growing practices and mediums.
A lightweight soil seed starting soil can be purchased and is probably the easiest method for beginners. Mixtures can be made using vermiculite, perlite and peat; however they call for ¼ teaspoon of lime for each gallon and alkalinity testing. Peat pots, flats, leftover trays or any suitable container can be used for starting certified organic seeds for the garden. They can be sterilized by dipping or rinsing them using a weak bleach and water mixture. Vinegar can be used in place of the bleach if desired. Plant the seeds according to directions in moist soil.
Some types of certified organic seeds require stratification or soaking prior to starting them. Be sure to read package directions prior to planting. Keep the containers in a warm area, soil moist and lightly covered with plastic wrap to maintain moisture and heat. Once they emerge, remove the wrap and place in a sunny area or under grow lights. Turn often to keep the plants from becoming leggy. Keep the soil lightly moistened.
Beginning gardeners will enjoy a deeper appreciation for gardening if the organic seedles and heirloom seeds they plant have a high success rate. For the first year or two plant seeds such as the following:
- Organic Leek Seeds such as the American Leek make a great addition to salads and are popular with home gardeners. They can be planted indoors prior to transplanting or placed directly into the garden.
- Herbs including basil and dill are easy to grow for the beginning gardener. They are almost a sure-bet and many varieties will reseed themselves. Set aside a specific area for an herb garden in the planting space and allow some to go to head for the following year. Many varieties are ready for use in just over a month such as Basil Genovese.
- Peppers- Growing hot peppers in areas where summers include heat and dry weather is an easy task for the first time gardener. Popular varieties such as Cayenne Long Red Thin Pepper seeds are an excellent choice as they can be chopped and used fresh or dried and crushed.
- Tomatoes – Tomato seeds are available in almost every imaginable shape, color and size. Blue tomatoes have become the latest trend in cherry tomatoes. People who enjoy a big beefy tomato enjoy Beefsteak, which is an excellent choice for slicing.
- Lettuce- Organic leaf lettuce seeds can be used to plant a frilly, decorative border in the garden and can be cut and picked several times when planted early in the season. Organic Green Mesclun Mix can be planted for greens that will make a beautiful salad to accompany any meal. Iceberg lettuce grows heads that are like those purchased at the store, but with the added benefit of being healthier when grown using organic methods.
- Zucchini- This is the standby squash that is a prolific producer and can be used in baking as well as sautéed or eaten fresh. It’s a very popular choice for beginning gardeners due to the ease with which it grows. People who raise their own chickens often plant extra seeds to provide food for their livestock.
- Marigolds- These colorful flowers add a pungent aroma and tend to reseed year after year. They are a popular choice for beginning gardeners, just plant them in an area where there is strong sun and enjoy their splendid color.
- Sunflowers – These are an excellent choice for people who want save bird seed for the winter months. They do well in hot, dry areas with plenty of sun.
Starting these certified organic seeds indoors several weeks before the last frost will help ensure they have adequate time to grow and become strong before transplanting outdoors. Be sure to look for documentation of certified organic seeds to ensure the seeds are what they are advertised to be.