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ECU Seed Swap

basil sprouts on a windowsill
arugula sprouts with an flag saying ARUG.
baby lettuce sprouts
fingers holding two baby cilantro leaves

Beginner Suggestions

New to gardening? Start off by answering this list of questions to help you select your seeds.

How much space do you have? Will you be growing in pots or directly in the ground? How much time do you have to tend to your plants and water them? 

Once you answer these questions, it’s time to think about what you might want to grow. What are your favourite flowers? What sort of pollinators do you want to attract? (Examples include bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.)  What do you love to eat? What will you use often in your cooking? Do you want to grow just enough for your household or do you want to share with your community?

Next, you may want to consider how much money you want to invest. Gardening can be a very expensive hobby or something that costs you nothing at all. Some folks enjoy buying attractive new pots or raised beds, new soil and exotic bulbs. Others love scavenging pots from the bounty of the alleyways, using items from a recycling bin to start their seeds, and making homemade compost to enrich their soil. You can grow perennials and bulbs from seeds, or you can purchase them from a garden centre. Neither of these approaches are wrong or right - build the garden that suits you.

Gardening is a reciprocal relationship to earth and plants: it is both simple and complex. Your garden needs to fit with your ideology and your life. It helps to be open to learning and researching. Each time you plan a pot or a plot, you will need to find out your plants’ requirements for germination, light, and water so they can thrive. Many folks find it helpful to make a calendar for the best time to plant seeds, and to take notes on where to plant them. Check out our resources guide for more ideas on where to find good information to assist in your planning
 

Easy Seeds for Beginners

Radishes - Radishes grow quickly and are fun to watch.

Lettuce - You can sow seeds directly and just press them into the soil.

Peas - Plant these early as they don't like it too hot!

Beans - Choose either pole or bush and plant these large seeds once the weather and soil warms up.

Calendula - Just literally throw them down and scuff up the soil a bit. They should re-seed themselves the next year or the seeds are easy to collect.

Sunflowers - Start indoors or outside. Water and watch grow.

Cosmo - Start indoors or out, bees and birds love it!

Tips and Tricks from the ECU Library Team

SPROUTING

  • Use old takeout boxes with clear lids as germination stations. You can poke holes in the bottom to provide drainage, and control the humidity by taking the lid on and off.
  • Sprout seeds by folding them into a damp paper towel, coffee filter, or napkin, and placing them inside a sealed baggie for 5-7 days, keeping them at room temperature. 
  • Make sure you LABEL your seed containers! Baby plants all look similar and it's easy to mix them up. Use flags, draw a diagram, put tape on the sides of the container - whatever works for you.
  • Try using your Instant Pot on the 'yogurt' setting to germinate your seeds.

EARLY GROWTH

  • Make sure to keep good airflow around your young seedlings to prevent 'damping off'.
  • If you are transplanting your seedlings, don't handle them by the stem as they are very delicate.
  • Keep soil moist but not saturated - you no longer want as much humidity as when they were germinating.
  • Nursery pots (plastic) may be easier than terracotta for beginners to manage when it comes to watering, as terracotta pots can soak up more moisture than expected and leave your sprouts drying out.
  • Thinning out seedlings may be necessary if your seeds were planted too close together. If your seedlings are crowding each other, choose the weakest looking plant to remove and either gently pinch off the top leaves or snip the whole stem off at its base. Make sure that you don't disturb the healthier seedlings when thinning out!

PLANTING OUT

  • Ensure your seedlings have "true leaves". When a seed germinates, it will produce two early leaves that are called cotyledons. These first leaves are part of the seed embryo and help with the establishment of the first roots.It is best not to disturb or transplant seedlings until they have at least a few "true leaves". These "true leaves" will normally look a little different then the cotyledons and they let you know that the seedling is growing and establishing well. It's also a good idea to research the plant you are growing to see how warm the air and soil need to be before you plant your seedlings outside. Some seeds grow and germinate well in cool weather and some need warm weather to succeed.

 

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