It’s 50°F and sunny in Central Oregon, and while that may still sound cold to our southern neighbors, we’re really enjoying our false spring. (This weather meme, which circulates throughout the year in our region, makes me laugh every time.)
The days are getting longer, the snow is melting rapidly, the songbirds are out in full force, and I’m itching to go outside and get my hands dirty in the garden. Realistically, we’re still months away from our peak growing season, but there are still plenty of things to do in preparation for the year ahead.
Namely: seed starting.
Starting your own seeds is a wonderful way to get a head start on the growing season, especially if you’re still waiting for the ground to thaw.
Here in Bend, Oregon, we have a frost-free season of only 75 days! Aside from buying transplants, which can add up quickly, sowing seeds indoors or in a greenhouse is the only way to ensure a successful garden in a short-season climate.
It’s also an affordable way to fill a garden, and by starting your own seeds, you get access to thousands more varieties than you’ll ever find in a big-box garden center or local nursery.
Giving your plantings a few weeks of lead time means you’ll have stronger, more established plants to put outside once the weather has warmed.
These larger plants (particularly brassicas like cabbage and broccoli) are better able to withstand pests that love to feast on tender, delicate seedlings, and are more resilient to the wide temperature fluctuations common in spring. They’re also less likely to get crowded out by weeds or mistakenly removed along with them.
I’ve learned a lot about seed starting over the years, mostly by killing a lot of seedlings through underwatering, overwatering, forgetfulness, carelessness, or curious experimentation.
It can be so disheartening to see hours of your hard work go to waste, simply because you didn’t provide enough light in those early weeks of seed germination or harden off your seedlings properly.
To be honest, trial and error — though valuable in experience — isn’t the most fun way to learn how to start seeds. So, I’ve assembled the ultimate roundup below of my best tips, tricks, and tutorials to help you succeed this growing season.
You’ll find out which bombproof seed starting trays I swear by and the seed starting mix that never fails me (if I’m not making my own, that is). You’ll learn how to calculate the right amount of plants to grow for your family and why it’s worth testing those tough-to-sprout seeds in a baggie first.
And finally, I’ll take you through every step of starting your own seeds indoors in my beginner’s seed starting guide, quickly and easily.
Learn from a decade’s worth of my experiences, mistakes, and smack-my-head moments, invest your resources wisely, and enjoy the process along the way!