Hi! I’m Ed Bruske in the District of Columbia talking to you about how to start your own vegetable garden and I hope you do. I’m happy to be here on my back deck where it is cooler and we have a nice breeze blowing. It's already starting to feel like summer and I’m just marveling here at how many seed catalogs there are in the world and how many trees there are. It is mind-boggling. How is anyone supposed to choose? Well, that is sort of a lifelong process. More than a destination and sometimes it's just a process of elimination that takes years and years comparing notes with other gardeners. The internet makes it a lot easier because you can go on there and sort through things in an instant.
There’s also some quality issues around seed catalogs. You can go down to the grocery store or the hardware store and buy your seeds but one of the reasons to buy from a catalog is reliability that those seeds have been grown confidently and stored confidently. So, by the time that they get to you, they are going to sprout and grow and provide you with the vegetables that you need. And once you have the seeds that you need, it's a pretty simple matter of planting them.
A lot of people like to start indoors with their plants. There are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, especially in the spring, you can get a jumpstart on things. You can have plants ready to go and be transplanted into the garden when the weather warms up. The second reason is that you don’t—you’re not so reliant on the element of chance. When you plant things in little seed packs like this individually, you know exactly which ones have sprouted and which ones haven’t. And that’s something an advantage, you don’t get when you just cast them about outside in the garden. So, ones they’ve sprouted in here, you can take them and transplant them into the garden. So, you get earlier seeds like tomatoes. If you want to plant tomatoes in May, you can plant them in March and they will be ready to go. They’ll be already plants ready for you to plant in May. And matter fact, I have a seed packet of something called green zebra which I don’t have nearly enough of growing. So, I’m going to show you how to plant one of this right now.
And usually what is recommended is a soilless mix to seal our little seed pack here. And the reason for that is soil sometimes can harbor diseases that will attack your little seedling. So, if you have a sterilized seed mix that you can get at the garden center, by all means, use that and make sure they are giving you an organic mix which means no chemicals or artificial fertilizers or anything like that.
As you can see, I’ve filled the seed pack here, the cell, seed sell. Oh, to about a half an inch or so from the top and I’m just tamping it down a little bit. You can also use another little pot to do that. And I’m just going to make a little hole in the middle with a pencil. We’re going to call that out dibble and then remove a seed. Tomato seeds are pretty small and the standard is that you plant three times deep as your seed is wide and the seed being hardly big enough for you to see, almost too small for me to see it. It fits right there on the end of my finger. It doesn’t need a very deep hole at all. So, it would go down in there like that and I could do that multiple times with many different seed cells then I just cover it over like this. And give it a good drink of water so all of that material in there is nice and damp.
Now, we would do with that hopefully is put it in a warm place. It doesn’t necessarily need to have light or dark. Usually, some seeds are different but not vegetables so much. Warm place, tomatoes like to germinate around 60 degrees and up from there. That’s 60 degrees, 70 degrees of it. And if you don’t have a warm place, work it, and we’re just going to get that soil that warm. Sometimes, people purchase a heat mat that actually plugs into the wall and creates that temperature under your seed pack so that you would set the whole thing right on your mat like that. And then wait for the seeds to germinate.
And you can find the information on how long it takes for your seeds to germinate so you will know what to expect. But as soon as those seeds do start to emerge from the soil, you will want to put them in a very well lit place. That could be a green house, if you happen to have one, or it could be a well lit window cell because as soon as the plants come out of the ground they’re going to want sunlight. And if your window cell is like my window cell, what’s going to happen is the plants are going to start to bend toward the light over that way and you want to come and every so often turn them around so they start bending back the other way and they aren’t permanently bent over.
If they don’t get enough sunlight, what happens to the seedlings is they get really lanky. They will grow really long and eventually just collapse for they want sunlight. But like this, give them enough sun, they come out with two little leaves that are called the cotyledons. Those are actually false leaves that just feed the plant. And then once I get their true leaves, they will start to turn into a real plant.
At a certain point, they’re going to want to go outside and you will acclimate them to that. They’ve been inside their entire lives so you want to slowly introduce them to the outdoors that’s called hardening them off. Take them outside for a couple hours, bring them inside, give them a taste of the sunlight. At a certain point, they’re going to be ready to be transplanted outside.
So, next what we’re going to talk about is planting seeds outdoors.