There aren’t too many pastimes out there that are at once lots of fun, really rewarding, super healthy and also a big money saver. What spring and summertime activity ticks all those boxes, you ask? Herb and veggie gardening, of course! Starting seeds in the springtime, and then watching tiny seedlings grow and flourish over the summer months is so satisfying. And did I mention you get to eat the products of your hard work?
If you don’t have a big garden, don’t think you can’t join in all the gardening fun—herbs, lettuce and even some tomato plants can be grown on a tiny apartment balcony or even in a sunny window. And at just a few dollars per seed packet, you can actually save a lot of money on produce. Okay, now that you’re on board, let’s get started.
Dampen 2-3 cups of soil in a mixing bowl for every 12 seed cells you plan to fill. The soil should be evenly moistened, but not sopping wet. Mix the soil around with a spoon to eliminate air pockets.Fill your seed trays with the moistened soil, making sure each cell is filled to the top and press down lightly to make sure there aren’t any air pockets. Don’t compact the soil too much though, since this makes it hard for delicate roots to grow.Plant 1-3 seeds per cell—when dealing with really tiny seeds, I like to plant a few in case one washes away. Seeds should be planted twice as deep as they are big. For larger seeds, make a divot in the soil with your pinky, place the seed and loosely cover with soil. For tiny seeds, sow on the surface of the soil and barely cover with soil.
Add popsicle stick labels so you can tell your seeds apart! Finish up by watering the seeds. For large seeds, you can water gently with a watering can. For small seeds, it’s safest to bottom water until the seedlings are sprouted and sturdy, usually when the first true leaves (the second set) appear. To bottom water, fill a shallow tub or old baking sheet with a 1/2 inch of water and let the seed trays soak until the top of the soil feels moist. Keep the seeds moist and in a warm location until seedlings sprout, usually within 5-7 days. Seedlings should receive bright, indirect light and regular watering. Transplant seedlings to a larger container when roots start to grow from the bottom of the seeds trays. If you’re going to transplant your plants outside, be sure to harden off—that means setting them outside for increasing increments over the course of a week until they’ve adjusted to the outdoors.
Starting seeds couldn’t be easier, right? When you’re eating fresh kale and basil later this summer, it will be so satisfying to know those leaves started as tiny seeds in your care! I’ve never grown chamomile or thyme before, so I’m pretty excited to see them take off! What are you growing this season? xo,