By now you’ve probably noticed that we have an awesome new category to shop here at aHa! Modern Living. Starting From Seed contains a selection of vegetable and herb seeds to get you started with growing your own colorful, nutritious, and scrumptious produce. We recommend that you check back frequently in the coming weeks. We are working diligently so that we can soon make even more types of seeds available!
Why Start From Seed?
So, when you can go to the grocery store and pick out an entire basket of tomatoes, why should you take the time to grow your own? Well, basically put, starting from seed is the best, if not the only, way to know exactly what you are getting in your food. When you buy a tomato at the store, it may be genetically engineered. For example, a cold water fish gene may have been crossed with the tomato in order to make the product more resilient to frost. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s not! It’s real life!
Why should I buy my seeds from aHa Modern Living?
We think it is super important to buy and consume locally grown produce. And what’s more local than your own backyard? You also earn aHa! Reward Points for buying your seeds from us. Most of the seeds that we sell in our Starting From Seed category are:
- Certified organic, meaning that they do not contain any nasty chemicals or pesticides.
- Heirloom variety, meaning that they have not been genetically engineered.
How do I begin my own home garden?
Once you have received your organic heirloom seeds, you will use a simple process called seed starting. This is an essential step to allow your plants to root before introducing them to the harsh conditions of the outside world. If you are nervous about trying to grow your own herbs and vegetables, there is nothing wrong with starting slowly. Try beginning with basil. This herb lends itself well to home germination and is pretty much a surefire bet.
- Gather containers. To start your seeds, you will need small containers that are just 2-3 inches deep. Last year’s nursery flats will work well, or plastic egg cartons, or dixie cups. Save time by planting and transplanting in CowPots (learn more about the benefits of CowPots). If you’re re-using containers, wash them out well using a hot water and couple tablespoons of bleach or white vinegar. Make sure each container has a small hole in the bottom, and set each container on a tray to accommodate water drainage.
- Create a nourishing growing medium. We recommend purchasing a bag of seedling starting mix, then blending in some well-aged compost to give your seeds a healthy beginning.
- Carefully sow your seeds. Make sure your soil is evenly moist, but not swampy, before dropping in your seeds. Cover each seed to a depth that is only about 3 times the thickness of the seed itself. Or, if the seed needs light to germinate, do not cover it at all. Some examples of seeds that need light to germinate are snapdragons and petunias.
- Protect your seeds. Lightly sprinkle milled sphagnum moss, a natural fungicide, over the containers to protect them from damping-off, a fungal disease that rots seeds. In the case of seeds that need light to germinate, sprinkle the moss first and then drop the seeds onto the moss. Next, create a mini greenhouse by covering your containers with a plastic bag to keep the environment humid, and place them near a heat vent. If you’d like, you can even purchase a heat mat that is specifically made for seed starting. Most seeds germinate well at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep the seeds damp. You can put a little bit of water in your trays so that the seeds absorb moisture from below, or mist the containers with a spray bottle of water.
- Transfer the seedlings to a light source. At the first signs of sprouting, uncover your seedlings and move the trays to a light source, such as a sunny window, a greenhouse, or underneath some fluorescent shop lights. Your seedlings need 12 to 16 hours of light a day. They do not need as much heat at this point, so you can move them away from the heating vent or heat mat. Make sure, however, that they do receive the amount of concentrated light that is necessary.
- Fertilize your seedlings. As soon as they get their first true leaves, your seedlings are ready for food. Water them with a half-strength solution of organic liquid fish emulsion/seaweed fertilizer once a week. Use either a spray bottle, or add the fertilizer to the water you place in the trays, (in the method that is described in step 5).
- “Harden them off.” This process means that you will prepare your plants for the harshness of the outside world. It is important to gently acclimate them so as not to shock them. On a warm day, move the containers to a shaded, protected place outdoors for a few hours. Each day for one week, gradually increase the plants’ exposure to the sun and outdoor conditions. At the end of the week leave them out overnight. Then, they are ready to transplant into the garden.