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Get Growing: Sure it's cold outside, but that doesn't mean you can't get your urban farm crops started inside

Planting a seed is simple but there are two important things to keep in mind: Don’t plant the seeds too deep and don’t overwater your seedlings. 
james bio photo
James Lissy (courtesy photo)

February is here and while most people get excited about the Super Bowl, the more exciting thing about February is it means it’s time to start your seeds.

It is still cold outside with small glimpses of spring, and there will most certainly be at least a few more snowstorms before the weather takes a turn for the better. You don’t want to plant seeds outside just yet. If you have a sunny window in your house, a greenhouse, a sunroom or if you have a place in your house where you can set up an LED grow light or two, one of those is what we want for starting seeds in February. Some vegetables, such as peppers, take forever to grow, so they need to be started well before the weather is warm outside.

The best way to determine which seeds should be started and when is to look at the back of your seed packets. Then organize your seed packets based on that time frame, as well as the space you have available to start seeds.

Once you have your seeds organized, get those peppers started as soon as possible. Peppers will take about two weeks from planting until they sprout, then they grow extremely slow. To plant your seeds, plastic pots that are about 3-by-3 inches are far superior to 1-inch plastic pots. With the smaller pots, once the plant starts growing you need to transplant to a bigger pot pretty fast so the plant can keep growing. That also increases your chances of damaging the plant and/or roots. Why not just skip that step, save yourself some time and go straight to the 3-inch pots. You can get a tray that holds 18 of these 3-inch pots so you can still have seedling trays, which make them very easy to move around. Once you have your pots, fill them with soil, leaving a little bit of room at the top (otherwise they’ll overflow when you water them). The Flower Bin Garden Center & Nursery carries all of these supplies.

2021_02_13_get_growing_seed_trayA seed tray can hold up to 18 3-inch pots. By James Lissy / For the Leader
Planting a seed is simple but there are two important things to keep in mind: Don’t plant the seeds too deep and don’t overwater your seedlings. 

You want the seeds to be just below the surface. If you look at the height of your seed, it should not be planted deeper than that height. 

It’s natural to try and will your plants to sprout and grow faster by watering them more. That is not how this works and you will only hurt your plants by doing that and you might not get any plants at all. 

To plant your seed, take your index finger, make a small indent in the middle of the soil in the pot, going down only as deep as you want the seed to be planted (keep it shallow). Then drop a single seed into the indentation. Seeds are extremely small and it’s hard to imagine a single seed growing into a giant plant. It’s natural to want to put a handful of seeds in each pot. Don’t, that will only cause more work for you once all of your seeds germinate. One seed to one pot.

After planting your seeds, put your trays in a sunny window or wherever you are going to grow them. Then you need to water them so the soil is moist. Using a spray bottle after first planting your seeds works out really well so you don’t jostle your seeds around a lot. Spray the soil until moist and don’t water them again until the soil is dry to the touch. By letting the soil get dry you are making sure that you are not overwatering your plants.

That’s all there is to starting your seeds. This month,  I will be starting peppers, lavender, artichoke, bee balm and celery.

2021_02_13_get_growing_seedlingsIt might be cold outside, but you can start your seedlings now. By James Lissy / For the Leader

Have a question?

If you have any questions or subjects that you would like me to cover in this column, they can be emailed to with the subject of “Longmont Leader Question.” I will happily answer any questions that you may have, after all this column is for you to benefit from and enjoy.