No matter how many times we do it, sowing seeds in the greenhouse is an activity full of anticipation. Each seed we press into the potting media has the potential to become a tall and vibrant plant. This plant has the potential to produce hundreds of flowers. In turn, these flowers ripen into hundreds of colorful vegetables. Through this one simple task of sowing seeds, we are able to watch the miracle of life unfold.
During this time of year, starting the seeds is one of our top priorities. We start with a flat (a plastic tray used for holding plants) filled with potting mix. Over the last few years, Ryan has tried several types of potting mix to determine which one is the best for our purposes. His preferred blend has good water-holding capacity, plenty of air space, and just the right ingredient combination to get the plants off to a healthy start.
After the flat is filled, we press the seeds gently into the media. Years of practice give any farmer or gardener a sort of intuition about how deep to plant the seed and it becomes second-nature. But a general rule of thumb says that the the bigger the seed, the deeper it goes. Once all the seeds are in place, we cover the tray with another thin layer of media, press the media down firmly, and water it well.
The seed needs time to absorb moisture, expand, and break the hard coating surrounding the living tissue inside. During this time, we make sure to keep the soil moist enough to allow this, but not too wet that it encourages a fungal disease that would rot the seeds or emerging seedlings. Over the waiting period, we find ourselves making extra trips to the greenhouse just to check—have the seedlings popped up yet?
At last, the seed splits and the shoot pushes up through the soil. Its first leaves unfurl and stretch toward the light, drinking in the energy it needs to start performing photosynthesis. When we see a flat full of these vibrant miniature plants, it seems to exude hope, promising good things to come.