How exciting it is to discover a young Mango seedling coming out of its abandoned seed on its own! Read more to learn about this.
Or watching the moist beans sprout with its tender white roots in our kitchen? So why not try growing plants from its very first stage of life- seeds? It’s fun to experience the whole growing cycle as one watches the baby-seedlings grow into sturdy plants that bear delicious fruit.
Sowing seeds indoors is not only cheaper than buying plants, but it also allows us to choose from several different cultivars which may not be easily available in a nursery. Moreover, sowing seeds indoors ensures better germination rate (no. of seeds germinated/100 seeds planted) and results in healthier plants with longer flowering and fruiting season.
Germinating seeds in much warmer and humid indoor-environment during late winter or early spring, gives plants a critical head-start. Then when it warms up outdoors in late spring, one can transplant the sturdy, well-established seedlings to bear flowers and fruit before cold weather sets in.
It is important to start growing seeds indoors in the winters, as the soil outside is not warm enough for the seeds to germinate in. Also, if you wait for it to get warmer to plant your seeds directly, the growing season for the plant gets shortened, giving it lesser time to produce fruits and flowers. Therefore, it is always a good idea to start sowing seeds indoors and then transplant them out into the garden.
All seeds take different amount of time to mature. The number of days is usually mentioned on the seed packet, so do plant accordingly. Germination time is the time it takes for a seed to sprout and maturation time is the time it takes to start bearing fruit.
To provide the optimum growing conditions and to avoid disease and insect problems, seeds should be started in a soil-less growing mix, not in garden soil. A good medium is fine-textured, moist and spongy. Garden soil may be too heavy or sticky, making it difficult for the tender new roots to push through. Also, the soil may not be sterile, infecting the seeds. Instead, one can use special seed-starting mixtures or compressed pellets of coco-peat, which expands when wet. They hold the perfect amount of moisture and nutrients, so one would not have to worry about fertilizing seeds.
Seeds can be started in any kind of container that will hold 1 to 2 inches of growing medium and won’t become easily waterlogged. Seed-trays are readily available in a garden store which are very convenient for starting seeds. It not only makes the best use of space but it is also easier to transplant seedlings with minimal disturbance to its roots.
However, anything works well as a container from yogurt cups, milk cartons, egg cartons and even empty egg-shells! Rectangular containers make better use of space by providing more area for the roots to expand than round ones do. The choices are endless but sterilize the planters before use. Simply ensure that the planter has a proper drainage by punching holes below.
Seeds require warm, humid and well-lit space for best germination. They sprout best at temperatures between 18 to 24°C. Seeds grow in two stages: germination and growing. Germination is the sprouting stage, when the embryo emerges from the seed. It doesn’t require light at this stage but will need some gentle warmth (not harsh heat). Place the seed-containers on top of a refrigerator, dryer, radiator or special heating-mats. One can even cover the seeds with plastic to maintain a warm and humid environment around them.
Once the green sprouts appear and are about half-an-inch tall, move the seedlings towards adequate light like near a sunny window. Insufficient light may result in leggy and scrambling seedlings. If your home lacks natural sunlight, artificial lights would work just as well. Go for fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs as the heat from the bulb could cause the plants to die. Place the fluorescent lights three to four inches away from the plant and watch them grow.
Take care to sprinkle water gently over the seeds with your hands or through a spray-bottle. At this stage the roots are very weak and a strong gush of water can cause it to uproot. Transplant the seedlings outside after about 4 weeks or when they are about 6 inches tall.