Starting Seeds Indoors for Spring Planting

Who doesn’t love to walk into the garden and pick a summer ripened juicy tomato to eat off the vine or slice up later with basil and olive oil? It’s almost a rite of summer for gardeners. Many summer vegetables that love heat such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers can be started indoors as seeds in late March to mid April to get a head start on the season. Starting seeds indoors is easy, fun, and you get to watch your creation from seed to plant to your dinner plate. It’s also an economical way to plant exactly what you want to grow and eat.

More significantly, in the Northeast where the growing season is not as long as we would like it to be, starting seeds inside gives a jump on the season so your transplants are ready to go out in the garden in May. Starting seeds indoors is almost required as planting them outside at the end of May means they won’t be ready to harvest until the first frost! Unless you can find a nursery that sells organic plants, the only way to grow an organic vegetable is to buy the organic seed and plant it yourself. I order my organic seeds from Johnny’s of Maine and High Mowing of Vermont. The latter company sells only organic seeds; the former sells organic and conventional. They both have large selections of vegetables, flowers and garden amendments. Seeds of Change also sells organic seeds as well as gear to start with such as seed starting trays, heating mats, and grow lights.

This is what you need to get started:

At least 10 plastic containers that strawberries are packed in. A large bag of special seed starting soil (Johnny’s has it) Post it labels A large plastic tray with shallow sides A sunny preferably south facing window

Note: if you don’t have strawberry containers, you can use paper cups with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.

Here is what you do with your materials:

Spread the soil in a large tray and moisten with water so it’s damp but not sopping wet Fill the plastic containers with the damp soil and keep it fluffy not tamped down Put about 6-7 seeds of your desired vegetable in the container spread out. Sprinkle soil on top of the seeds just to cover. Close the top of the container to create a mini greenhouse to expedite germination. If you want to speed up the germination, you can buy heating mats especially made for this purpose. Do not put the plastic containers directly on the mat but use a plastic tray in between. I use my heating mat at night and keep it off during the day. They will need good light to germinate successfully; if they don’t get enough light, they are susceptible to fungus. If you don’t have a sunny window, you can buy special grow lights. I put a post-it on the side of each container labeling what it is.

Once you are set up, you do need to be conscientious about checking the soil every day for dryness. If the seeds dry out, they will not germinate. All the nutrition it needs is in the seed. Water lightly — do not drown the little seeds.

Once the seed has pushed through the soil, remove the cover. When it has outgrown the container and has sent up a set of leaves, you can gently take it out with a spoon and transplant it to a peat pot (which will disintegrate into the ground) or one of those plastic containers from the nursery that flowers come in. After about three weeks when it has grown into a mini plant, it will need a boost from you as it will have used up all the nutrition that was in the seed. I like using Fish Emulsion by Neptune’s Harvest diluted in water.

Once the seeds have sprouted, you can keep the room a little cooler.

When the end of May comes and the weather has been warm, you can think about putting the seedlings in the garden. However to avoid shock, you must do a “hardening off” process. This involves packing them up in a tray and taking them for a field trip in the great outdoors to get used to natural light and air. Keep them on the back porch for a few hours a day gradually moving them into the sunlight and be sure to take them in at night. After about a week of this, and when nighttime temperatures are at least 50 degrees for a week, you can plant them in the ground or in large prepared pots. You will need garden markers to indicate which plant it is that you insert in the pot or the ground. Water the holes in the garden or pots before putting them in. Be aware that in our eagerness to get our veggies planted outside, we must check in with the weather forecast as it is heartbreaking for a sudden unexpected frost to kill off a tender transplant that you have nurtured for two months.

When you plant tomatoes in the ground or a pot, pinch off the bottom leaves and be sure to do that all summer. They don’t like their feet too wet or their leaves dragging on the ground.

Anyone can stick a transplant in the ground but planting a seed and helping it grow to create an array of organic homegrown food is quite satisfying! So enjoy your garden and grow!

For further information or help with setting up your garden, please contact Priscilla Warshowsky atpriscillaew@gmail.com. Priscilla is a Certified Master Gardener and her mother, Ruth Shaw Ernst, was a published author of two books on organic gardening.


Reclaiming the Ancient Tradition of Tree Wrapping by Jan Johnsen

Our modern insulated lifestyle with its technological advances has diminished our contact with the earth and we are now virtually cast adrift, isolated from the strength and resilience that trees can offer us. We spend such little time amongst these grand woody beings that we have lost – unknowingly – an important stabilizing and grounding anchor for our psyche. This changes once we remember to honor the energy that trees emanate. The Zen master, T. D. Suzuki, wrote in his book, Zen and Japanese Culture “Every old tree of any sort inspires a beholder with a mystic feeling which leads him to a faraway world of timeless eternity.”

Read More.

How Clean Is Your Biofield? Recognizing and eliminating EMF in your environment

There has been a great deal of research in the last several years about the impact of electrical, cellular, microwave and other energies on the human body. Our electromagnetic fields or EMF, also known as our biofield, can be affected or disrupted by the electrical signals or radiation emited by such common devices as cell phones, computers and electrical lines. Detecting unwanted radiation and eliminating it has become a new focus for those concerned with their health.

Read More.

Meet the “Elephant Whisperer” Helping the Asian Elephant

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in the Chiang Mae province of Northern Thailand. They host a number of vibrant programs: you can visit, tour, volunteer, feed, and even sleep with the elephants! Founded by Lek Chailert, known as “The Elephant Whisperer,” ten years ago on just 250 acres, the Park now encompasses over a 1,000 acres and her humane approach has spread to nearby privately owned elephant “rides.”

Read More.

Moving Transplants Into the Summer Garden by Priscilla Warshowsky

| by Priscilla Warshowsky

Here in the Northeast, we have had a rocky spring with the temps swinging from beach weather to rainy, cool November type days. Finally it seems to have settled, the soil is warming, and we can think about getting those transplants into the garden and planting seeds for flowers and vegetables. Whether you have planted tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers from seeds indoors in March/April, or bought transplants from the local nursery, it will be almost time to move them into the garden or into large pots.

Read More.

Celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd

People around the world are celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd. From the official Earth Day website www.earthday.org, we read: We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example.

Read More.

Monsanto Linked Pesticide, Not Zika Virus, May Be Cause of Birth Defects

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In a shocking new development, reports have come in that chemicals, not the Zika virus, may be responsible for the birth defects reported among pregnant women in South and Central America. As seen on www.ecowatch.com the report, written by the Argentine group Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns (PCST), suspects that pyriproxyfen–a larvicide added to drinking water to stop the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks–has caused the birth defects. The authors said that the pesticide, known by its commercial name SumiLarv, is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese subsidiary of Monsanto.

Read More.

Oklahoma Fracking: 680 Earthquakes in 2015

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Oklahoma just had its 12th earthquake in one week! Among the recent quakes to hit the area was a 4.2 magnitude temblor on New Year’s Day that caused minor damage but no injuries. The state, notorious for their oil drilling and fracking activities, celebrated the end of 2015 with a whopping total of 680 earthquakes for the year. As reported in The Huffington Post, “Oklahoma’s energy regulator declared in November that the state now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world…”

Read More.

Monsanto Charged With War Crimes by Dr. Mercola

| by Staff

Earlier this year, dozens of food, farming, and environmental justice groups announced they will put Monsanto on trial for “crimes against nature and humanity” on October 16, 2016 (World Food Day), in The Hague, Netherlands. As noted by Andre Leu, president of the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM): “Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment…”

Read More.

Moving the Giants: A Film of One Man’s Inspired Quest to Save Ancient Trees

| by Staff

Twenty years ago, David Milarch, a northern Michigan nurseryman with a penchant for hard living, had a near-death experience. After this experience, angels let him know that the earth was in trouble. Its trees were dying, and without them, human life was in jeopardy. The solution, they told him, was to clone the champion trees of the world – the largest, the hardiest, the ones that had survived millennia and were most resilient to climate change – and create a kind of Noah’s ark of tree genetics…

Read More.