How to Start a Garden in Any Home

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    If you’re anything like me, you probably consider starting a garden every Spring, but intimidation takes hold and you resolve to do it next year instead. This year is the year, I finally decided, that I was going to try my hand at starting a vegetable garden from seeds. After researching and collecting as many tips and tricks as I could find, I have learned a lot and am eager to share my experience! Now is the best time to start your seeds, before the last frost, so read on if you’re interested in joining me in this journey!

    Choosing Your Seeds

    There are 2 things that are most important to consider when choosing your seeds. The first is how much light they need, and the second is temperature. This information will be on the seed packets. Be sure that you have a space indoors that gets light for at least half of the day, and choose your seeds accordingly. Don’t feel completely limited by your space, though, we’ll get to that later.

    I chose a small variety of herbs (basil, cilantro, and thyme), some of my most-used veggies (tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, and squash), and some daisies, because why not grow something pretty, too?

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    Planting Your Seeds

    This part is easy! You can pick up seed starting trays at any garden center, and there are tons of different options and setups, but don’t think you have to get fancy. Basic trays will do, or even egg shells, egg cartons, or cups made from newspaper. Just make sure that there is a hole to drain water at the bottom of each cup!

    Follow the directions for depth on the seed packet, and plant them in moist seed starting soil. The soil is important- the kind made specifically for seeds has the proper nutrients to really get them going. Don’t forget to label everything so you know what is what!

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    Where to Store Your Seedlings

    This is where your creativity comes in. You may need to set up an area to keep your seeds in the right light. For me, this meant clearing some counter space near a window in my kitchen. Because it’s cold and my apartment isn’t exactly well-insulated, I set up a reading lamp to keep them warm. If you don’t have ample room near a window, hope is not lost! You can set up “grow lights,” or even just install a special garden lightbulb (can be found at most online lightbulb retailers) in a lamp.

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    Caring for Your Seedlings

    Your soil needs to stay damp while the seeds germinate, but too much water will flood them and jostle them around. The best way to work around this is to water them with a spray bottle. I do this every morning and every evening, and I keep them covered with plastic wrap to prevent the water from evaporating quickly. There are trays made with clear lids that do this as well, if you prefer a neater setup.

    Some Tried-And-True Pro Tips

    About a week into my seedling endeavor, I noticed a white, fuzzy mold growing on my trays and took to Google in horror. I was afraid that it would harm my not-yet-sprouted seeds, but I was also afraid to use any chemicals on them, too. The cure? Cinnamon! To get rid of it, I mixed cinnamon with water and got the soil good and saturated with it, and have sprinkled more on as needed since. No more mold, and no harsh chemicals!

    With the heat running, I also had issues with my soil drying out. I fixed this by keeping all of my trays on a cookie sheet, and keeping about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom. This way, they water slowly from the bottom and never fully dry out.

    Transplanting

    The final stage of this is probably the easiest! When your plants get to a sturdy size, they’re ready to be moved! After the last frost, they can be planted outdoors, or potted in a window box or on a balcony. From there, they should be monitored for sun exposure and any kind of pests. Keep dead leaves and branches trimmed, tall plants supported by steaks or wires, and all of them watered and fed (if necessary).

    Enjoy the literal fruits of your labor!

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