In just a few days we will officially say goodbye to winter and give a warm welcome to spring! We can finally take off our winter layers and enjoy the outdoors without fear of getting too cold. One of the best parts of spring is being able to start up my garden once again. There are so many seeds to choose from, but most people I’ve encountered have said that getting seeds to grow can be tough. Here are my step by step tricks that I’ve used to successfully grow my new plants.
1.Start with Plant Starter Trays
You can plant the seeds directly into your pot or bed and it can work that way, but using a starter tray gives you more control over your starter plants. Plant starter trays are very inexpensive and if you get the plastic ones, they can be reusable. When you plant seeds, not all the seeds sprout. So you might just end up with an empty pot or bed. You can buy a plant starter tray with 72 cells which will give you 72 attempts at getting successful sprouts. That's a lot of cells, but don’t worry there are trays with different amounts of cells. So feel free to choose whichever one suits you the best. If you decide to fill your cells with soil, I recommend buying soil from a home and garden store. The only thing about using soil is that transplanting your newly sprouted plants can be a bit difficult as the soil may fall apart. This is why I like to use peat pellets.
Peat pellets are hard little disks of peat wrapped in fine netting that swell and expand once exposed to water. You can buy them at a home and garden store and it normally comes with its own starter tray. The ones I get come with directions for those who are new to using peat pellets, but it makes transplanting a lot easier than using loose soil. They are my holy grail for my starter plants. While I’m letting my little seeds sprout, I keep them indoors in my greenhouse.
I’m sure the first thing that pops up in your head when you hear “greenhouse” are those large greenhouses that you can just walk inside. Most people don’t have the space or even the money to own one of those large greenhouses. I know I don’t, but you can use a small greenhouse to house your tray of starter plants. When I first started planting starter plants, I made a small makeshift greenhouse out of leftover scrap wood and a plastic sheet. I built a table-like structure with an open table top and put the starter tray under the table structure. Then I took a sheet of plastic that covers the table structure and I tucked the excess plastic under each leg. This is pretty much a low budget greenhouse, but it worked very well for me. The one I made was very small and fit on top of a table. Now I use a larger greenhouse, but it's the size of a small bookshelf. The trick is to keep the moisture inside the greenhouse.
4.Plant Mint Plants with Your Plants
If you’re like me and transplant your plants into an outdoor plant pot or bed, then you may end up with a pest problem. No, I don’t mean bugs. I mean birds and squirrels. I love birds and squirrels. They’re adorable and fun creatures, but they do tend to mess with your plants. Birds might mess with your plant's root system while looking for grubs and worms in the soil. Squirrels might bury acorns right at your plant's root system. This will stunt your plant's growth resulting in an unfortunate and confusing death. Confusing because at first glance it may look like your plants are mysteriously not growing and then they die. You can stop birds from messing with your plants by adding a bird feeder to your backyard or wherever you have your outdoor garden. When it comes to stopping squirrels, a good and harmless way is by planting mint plants next to your plants. For some reason squirrels don’t like mint plants. I’m not sure why they don’t like mint, but when I planted mint plants in my outdoor plant bed it stopped the squirrels. The squirrels also decided to throw acorns at my window for a couple of months. They weren’t happy about the mint plants at all. You can buy mint plants at a local home and garden store that carries pre-potted plants.