Organic seeds will grow into healthy seedlings that are ready to be transplanted into the garden after the last frost of the season. Some cool weather crops such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, amongst others, can withstand a light frost. In general, plants will do best without the set back of cold temperatures.
Keeping the garden area pesticide and herbicide free will allow organic seeds to grow into heads that can be harvested the following year while retaining their organic properties. Prepare the garden soil by tilling or turning it and mixing in compost or organic fertilizers if necessary. Keep the soil evenly damp and allow it to set for at least a week before transplanting plants to prevent burning the tender seedlings. Gather compost and mulching materials to nourish and protect plants when transplanting. Saved cans, milk jugs and empty pop bottles or other large clear coverings are useful for placing around the seedlings to protect them from wind and drying out when first transplanting.
Prior to transplanting, place the plants in a protected area for at least a week during the day. Bring them indoors at night to protect from frost. Gradually increase the length of time they are exposed to full sun to protect from them from burning. Keep the soil moist as they will dry out quickly outdoors in the small containers.
Transplant plants grown from tomato seeds when they are approximately 6-8 inches tall and contain at least 3-4 sets of leaves. If you haven’t already, click here to see the new blue tomatoes. Make a bucket of weak tea from compost or a weak solution of organic fertilizer to pour into the holes around the plants when transplanting, particularly in areas with poor soil. Dig a small hole that is approximately 3 times the size of the root and soil area that will be transplanted. Depending on soil conditions, loosen surrounding soil slightly too. Pinch off the bottom set of leaves and plant the seedling into the tea filled hill, loosely compacting the soil around the roots. Leave a slight crater around the base of the plant, and fill with mulch. An old coffee can works well for protecting the plant from wind, sunburn and cut worms. Good tomato seeds for starting indoors include most varieties. Sustainable Seed Company has recently introduced blue tomato seed that can still be ordered in time to start in most northern states.
Melon seeds are often started indoors as well and are planted on hills in the garden after the last frost. Melons can also be planted directly into the soil, approximately 3-6 seeds per hill. The plants will sprawl out over a large area. They start well in peat pots and the edges can simply be torn away during transplanting. Many peat pots advertise that the plants can be left in the container and planted directly into the soil and that the peat will decompose. I haven’t had as much success with doing this, although it may be due to dry soil conditions.
Transplanting plants grown from organic seeds into the garden will provide the earliest crops. Leave the soil around the roots as much as possible, disturbing the roots as little as possible unless they have become root bound. Decrease watering schedules gradually to prevent the plants from shock. Covers can be removed for a few hours at a time, working up to full removal. Organic seeds combined with organic growing practices ensures a healthy food supply and can create a sustainable garden.