I look forward to spring every year for SO many reasons, but over the past two years, my favorite thing I look forward to is started my Spring and Summer Garden. This post will walk through my home gardening tips for zone 8A and planting seeds for this area. Gardening is all by trial and error and I am not an expert. I have literally only TRULY kept a garden for two years.
Morgan started one when we lived in Raleigh many years ago, which has definitely sparked our interest in wanting to have one on a grander scale in a house we actually owned. My mother also always kept a little garden with a few things like tomatoes, green beans, and sunflowers every summer. I have learned so much about what works for our environment and how best to enrich the seeds we choose. Hopefully you find some inspiration to start your own home garden this year.
When & How To Start
You will need a seed cell starter
We used the one shown above, and I know it goes in and out of stock frequently online but you might get lucky if you go into your local store too. This has proven successful for our gardens two years and a row so why change a good thing? You will need this to help your seeds early germinating stage and it makes it so easy to get them started!
You simply add in the amount of water it says in the instructions to expand the cells, and then you will add your seeds. You can see it in action by heading to my Reel on Instagram where I show my process by week! I always start mine in February. I am zone 8A so late winter is the best time for planting and I keep it around February earlier March to start any seeds. There are some plants I do prefer to buy and replant, and with those I do so around April. You can see how well our 2021 Garden did in my blog post here.
This is the kit I like to use to get my seeds started inside. I have also seen many gardeners use the heating pad I am linking below it. I personally have not used this yet, but I will be getting one for next year so that we can keep our cell starters in the garage next time instead of in our dining room. 🙂
What I Use
Indirect sunlight inside
Find a spot inside that offers indirect sunlight for the pods.
The goal is to keep the growing seeds warm so they can germinate. If they have direct sun, the soil/pods dry up faster or get scorched, causing a negative growing environment for the seedlings. Find an area in your home or heated garage that offers indirect sunlight. You can also use heating lamps or the heating pad I mentioned earlier to get the seeds started.
Be sure to give them a warm spot where you can easily check on them daily. Watching the progress is half the fun for me!
Increase The Plant’s Space Gradually
Over time, as the seeds germinate, some will burst growth and need a larger space for roots. I use solo cups as a transition from small space to garden. I drill three holes in the bottom of each cup for drainage and use nutrient rich soil for replanting. Some seeds sprout later than others. My green beans this year have burst out ahead of everything and are basically little mini bean stalks already.
WITH A LIQUID SOLUBLE PLANT FOOD DILUTED TO QUARTER STRENGTH
I recommend to water with just a spray bottle as you don’t want to over water and wash the seeds out. You definitely have to be careful to not jostle the seeds around too much with hard hitting water, which is why I like to use an easy spray bottle. Each time you replant your seedlings (or anything you’re repotting) you want to water.
When It’s Time to Plant
After the Last Frost, Transition Plants Outside
A big issue with my zone is that I’m in North Carolina, the state where you could wake up to 34 degrees but by 12PM its 75. One day it will be high of 80, three days later the high will be 45. It can be a real roller coaster in the beginning of spring, so for me, it’s a constant inside outside move around until typically around April I can rely on the low temperature not exceeding 40-45. That’s still a bit cold for plants but the warmth throughout the day should balance them out.
When you first put your seedlings outside, start with a shaded area and gradually move them into the sun. This allows them to better acclimate to the outside elements. A good rule of thumb is to keep them there for about a week before transitioning to pots or in the ground, but you can gauge it as you see your plants responding to outside as well.
And that wraps up the steps I take to starting my Spring and Summer garden. That is what I have done so far this season in terms of starting them. I’ll be following this post up with the next steps which will be, transitioning to pots or in the ground, watering schedules, plant feed, keeping pests away and more!
Here are a few things you should look into having for when your seedlings are ready for planting!