Winter seed starting

It’s a new year and you want to start or continue on your journey to being more self-sustaining. One step I am taking is winter seed starting. I live in zone 7b. If you do not already know your zone, I definitely recommend you looking that up first.

If you are new to this, starting your plants in the winter probably never occurred to you. That’s okay! Before I started gardening I didn’t really think about it and just assumed everyone’s garden started in the spring when everyone was rushing to the store for yard supplies.

You probably want to know why even start them this early. Well seeds can take several weeks to mature enough for harvest. Why not get a jump on that timeline so you can start harvesting earlier in your growing season. It is important to know each individual plant’s needs. If you are buying seeds you can find most of the needed information on the back of your seed packet.

image showing the back of a chefs blend tomato seed packet. Gives information on how long it takes to germinate, the depth and spacing to plant your seed in the soil. Also gives when you should germinate and plant based on your location.

This image is the back of a chefs blend tomato seed packet. This year I have started multiple kinds of tomatoes because I plan on canning. One packet should be enough if you want to just have fresh produce as you eat. As you can see the back of your packet gives you most of the information needed to start. Such as how long it takes to germinate, the depth and spacing to plant your seed in the soil. It also tells you when you should germinate and plant based on your location. So this is where knowing your zone comes in.

While in this example you can get the general idea of when based on the color coded picture provided but if you read the instructions you will notice it mentions starting seeds 6-8 weeks BEFORE the LAST frost. The first time I saw that I thought, “theses gardening people are crazy!” I thought how am I supposed to know this frost is the last one? I also over think most things. If you look up your zone it will tell you all the information you need like when your last frost will be. You can also find really helpful schedules like this one from Urban Farmer to help you with winter seed starting.

Incase you have never heard of germination, think of it like your seed is hibernating, so to speak and you need to wake it up to start growing. Personally I germinate my seed in a window. First, I soak my seeds in water then place them in a wet tissue. I place this tissue in a sandwich bag, label it, and tape it to a window to warm up with the sun. This “wakes up” the seed and that process is called germination.

Plastic sandwich bag with a wet tissue and seedlings. Winter seed starting indoors.

See, nothing too fancy just functional. I don’t know, it gets the job done so I’m good with it. I leave the bags up in the window until the seed babies start to sprout, as you can see in that picture. Well I guess not just sprout but I make sure it have so good roots too. This is my first year trying to grow loofa and here is what one of my seed babies.

loofa seed started with healthy root

After they are here I transition them to soil. I started by using recycled baby jars and egg cartons until my husband came home with these cute seed trays. They have silicone bottoms so you can easily pop them out later as they grow and place them in a bigger pot.

reusable seed starting tray by Burpee with silicone bottoms for easy out feature

Now you’re probably wondering, “what seeds do I start in these winter months?” Great news you can start a variety of vegetables, flowers, herbs and more. think about what you will actually eat or maybe what decorations you want. Knowing your zone will also help you plan which plants you want to start and when. Depending on what plant you are starting, you are going to want to start it in doors about six to eight weeks before the last frost in you zone.

I don’t know about you but I think winter seed starting is fun. Just looking one day to see which seeds sprouted and watching all the little plant babies get new leaves. Then of course the added bonus of food later! Hope this helps you realize you can start seeds too!

Happy Planting!

xo Emilia

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