Preparing to Start Seeds


A photo of Paul GardenerDepending on what part of the country you're in, it's getting to be the time of year when we will need to get started with some of our early seed starting. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and many herbs and summer veggies can benefit from being started anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months early indoors.

If you buy new planting trays every year, you can go ahead and proceed as you normally would. Fill with starting medium, maybe cover with plastic, and either set in a window or build yourself a seed starting set up and put up lights. If, however, you're like me and try to conserve a little bit of money as well as maybe not use as many resources, then you'll likely try planting many of your seeds in starter trays that you've kept over from previous years. There will of course be trays that have met there useful end and must be scrapped, but taking a little time to clean and store the ones that have not will go a long way to increasing the "bottom line" in your home garden in the long run.

There is one thing that must be taken into consideration when reusing planting supplies however. Sanitation. Just as germs and bacteria can be spread in our kitchens through careless sanitation, so too can they be spread in our gardens. Many of those bacteria and disease strains can be terribly harmful to our gardens if not devastating. Fortunately for us, as the gardeners and caretakers of our gardens, there is a simple way for us to mitigate this potential disaster.  

Soaking seed trays 

Each year before I begin planting, I pull out my trays, sort through those that have become unusable, clean off the cobwebs and give them a bleach bath.

I happen to have a dedicated sink in my garage workshop that I make use of for this, but a simple bucket of bleach water, a folding table or even a board over a pair of saw horses will work perfectly well. The point is that you want to kill off any harmful bacteria before you start new seedlings in these trays.  

Nebraska Dave
3/1/2011 9:36:28 AM

Paul, this is great information. Most folks don't want to take the time to make sure the diseases don't carry over from the last year. My goodness you have a lot of plant starting trays. Do you actually start that many plants? I am not going to start seeds this year but I do have a seend starting station in the planning stage that should be read to go by next spring. My plants this year will be purchased at the local nursery. I haven't tried to extend the growing season yet but I think that might be coming in a couple year after I finished expanding my garden. I have a least a couple more years of garden expansion before it's completed. Have a great seed starting day.

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