Pay close attention to the date on your seed packet, and to the germination rate (which will be a % out of 100). You want to plant seeds that are no older than two years old, and with a germination rate between 75% and 100%. Another thing to consider is buying organic seeds. Organic seeds are going to respond better to natural fertilizers such as composts, and will tend to grow longer roots because they have to dig deeper to find nutrients in the soil.
Below is a list of seed companies I recommend because of their wide selection of organic seeds, high quality seeds, and nifty varieties:
- Southern Exposure (Fairly local seed company with seeds specifically adapted to this region)
- Turtle Tree Seeds (Biodynamic seeds)
- Seeds of Change (All Organic Seeds)
- Native Seed Search
- Baker Creek (Neat Varieties)
- High Mowing
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Seed Saver’s Exchange
2.) Seed trays
This is what you will fill with dirt to plant you seed in. Almost any plastic or waxed paper container can be turned into a seed tray as long as you poke holes in the bottom for water to drain. For small plants like onions, egg cartons would even work). In the picture here I am using a ‘128 tray’, which is just a plastic tray with 128 connected cells. Your local nursery should have similar seed trays. The object is to have at least one onion sprouting in each cell.
If you are using used seed trays from last season, or if you are borrowing some from a friend I would suggest you should wash your trays in a diluted water/bleach solution in order to kill off any plant diseases that may transfer from the old soil into your new baby seedlings! I use about a cap-full of bleach for four gallons of water to sterilize trays. This is an USDA organically approved practice.
3.) Potting Soil
Potting soil is a light fluffy soil that is ideal for starting seeds. I would recommend organic potting soil if you want to grow vegetables free of chemicals. Everything that goes into nourishing an organic plant must be organic itself. You should be able to find organic potting soil at your local nursery.
If you have a south facing window that gets about 5 hours of direct sunlight a day in the winter, that would be a great place to keep your starts. I will be starting our seeds in a neighbor’s greenhouse. Also have a place in mind outside that will have enough sun to and good soil to transplant your ‘start’, or seedling, into.