Welcome to Seed and Harvest

Gardeners who grow from seeds have an advantage in terms of accessing rare varieties not sold as starter plants in local nurseries – not to mention saving money compared to purchasing plant starts from local stores.

Each seed contains fully formed structures ready to provide energy for an emerging plant, including a tiny radicle which will penetrate soil in search of moisture and minerals, baby leaves called cotyledons and genetic instructions.

Getting Started

Growing plants from seeds is often more challenging than buying full-grown plants from your garden center, yet can also be more rewarding when children participate. We share some helpful tips here in this Backyard Smart episode to get you and your children started in planting process.

Start with a seed pack designed specifically for your climate. This should include information like general plant description, height and spread data, recommended planting times for your region and an easy-to-follow guide for planting depth. Next, find containers large enough to hold seed packets (2-3 inches wide). Damiano emphasizes adding drainage holes as this will prevent water accumulation that could potentially rot the seeds at their core.

At first, when selecting the container to use for seed starting, be sure to cover it tightly with plastic wrap or some form of clear cover to maintain heat and moisture within. Next, fill your container with well-draining soil mix before gently pressing in each seed – you should give seedlings plenty of light and warmth until their sprouts appear in the soil surface!

Once your seedlings are ready for outdoor conditions, transplant them using a gardening trowel or spade that fits the hole you are creating and water thoroughly so they have an established root ball.

Starting your own plants from seed offers you access to an expansive array of varieties, such as tomatoes bred specifically for sauce making, cucumbers designed for pickling and spineless okra – these rare options may not be readily available at local nurseries but by contributing back through saving seeds you’re helping ensure these rare vegetable and flower varieties survive for future generations.

Sowing Seeds

Direct sowing of seeds tends to yield better results than starting them indoors, as the seeds don’t face restrictions from being restricted within a pot or tray, receiving all the benefits from wind, rain, sunlight and rain that would otherwise be denied to them indoors. Furthermore, their root systems establish themselves quickly so they can start growing strong roots faster – providing an effective method for cultivating flowers and vegetables from scratch at a cheaper price point than purchasing ready-grown plants from retailers.

Flowers and vegetable seeds can generally be planted directly outdoors provided the conditions are conducive for them to flourish. This will vary depending on the seed variety, including temperature, light, moisture levels and wind direction. Seeds should first be soaked prior to sowing in order to soften their hard outer shell and release any chemicals inhibiting germination; additionally they must always be planted at an adequate depth.

Some seeds need to be buried to an equal depth as their diameter, while others can simply rest atop the soil; your seed packet’s planting instructions will provide further guidance. When planting carrots and nicotiana seeds, press them firmly into the soil using a board or trowel before covering with seed-starting compost to prevent airborne pathogens.

Timing your sowing correctly can have a tremendous effect on the success of your garden. Sowing too early may sap most of the seeds’ energy just trying to stay alive; too late may mean they struggle to take advantage of warmer conditions. Thankfully, most seed packets contain information regarding optimal sowing times depending on climate in different regions worldwide.

Keep in mind that many seeds require alternating warm and cold periods in order to break dormancy; examples include lilies, tree peonies and daphne. Soaking seeds in warm hand-hot water will soften their shell while submersion in mild bleach solution will kill any bacteria or organisms present on their surfaces.


Once seedlings have germinated and reached an appropriate size, transplanting is the next step. This process consists of moving them from their current container – usually a plant pack or pot – into another one in preparation for planting in either their garden plots or into larger containers. Home gardeners use this method for annual flowers, vegetables (lettuce and radishes), herbs perennials or shrubs.

An ideal transplanting soil should be light and sandy with a pH between 6 and 7, such as well-draining loose-packed planting medium. Furthermore, sufficient water must be supplied to keep them moist without becoming soggy; humidifiers may help boost relative humidity levels in your growing space if required. Labelling seedlings according to variety name and date of sowing helps you track when to transplant them for your garden.

Reusing containers or trays to start seeds can be both economical and eco-friendly, such as yogurt or sour cream containers, plastic muffin trays and seed flats – provided they are clean with drainage holes at their bases – although for more permanent solutions try biodegradable starter pots made of biodegradable material.

Indoor seeds tend to grow more vigorously than their outdoor counterparts, making it essential to transplant them as soon as they have two sets of leaves – both the initial seedling leaves and true or adult leaves – or risk overcrowded plants that won’t produce strong and healthy results. Failure to transplant promptly can result in overcrowded conditions that inhibit healthy plant development.

Before transplanting, it is also necessary to harden transplants by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions. This can be accomplished in a shady outdoor location such as a cold frame for several hours per day until your plants adjust to living in sunlight. Furthermore, you should reduce watering frequency just enough so as not to cause seedling wilt.


Harvesting involves gathering edible or medicinal parts of a plant when they near maturity, typically within weeks or days after seeds have germinated or from online sources such as seed packets. Specific timing will depend upon local conditions including soil fertility, precipitation and temperature.

Maintaining an ongoing close watch on the progress of your vegetables is vitally important, and when they’re ready to harvest use sharp knives, scissors or hand pruners to cut rather than pull. Utilizing appropriate pruning tools also helps avoid diseases caused by damaged leaves and stems that might otherwise emerge as a result of negligence in farming practices.

Make sure that you harvest your vegetables at the optimal time for maximum taste and nutrition. Many vegetables, like spinach and lettuces, should be harvested when one-fourth to one-half of their individual florets have opened; leaving them longer can reduce both nutritional value and vase life.

Citrus and pepper crops must be harvested at specific stages in order to be eaten or preserved for later use, making indoor seeds the best way to start them in springtime. They require long warm growing seasons for full development and fruiting.

When planting vegetable seeds, take special care in reading through and following the package instructions carefully for optimal results. Some seed packages recommend starting them indoors a few weeks prior to your last frost date in order to give your plants enough time to grow before transplanting outside when it becomes warm enough.

No matter where your seedlings come from, it is crucial that they are hardened off prior to planting in order to help the plants adapt more quickly to their new environments and avoid transplant shock. One effective method of doing so is gently rubbing their stems with your fingers – this mimics wind movement while creating robust plants.

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