5 steps to successful seedlings and an abundant home garden

Take advantage of Earth Day to garden

During this period of confinement, many people have taken up hobbies or are on the lookout for new projects. Gardening is a passion that has really blown up these past couple of weeks.

In fact, more and more amateur gardeners want to try their hand at cultivating flowers and vegetables, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect—spring is the ideal season to plant your seedlings!

IGA has put together a handy guide, including top techniques and tips for all your gardening projects, big or small!

1. Re-grow your vegetable scraps

The zero-waste lifestyle is a trend that just keeps getting bigger, especially during these times of crisis. You too can join the movement by re-growing vegetable scraps rather than throwing them away or composting them.

Put all the odds in your favour by opting for lettuce, leeks, green onions, fennel, or celery—these are all vegetables with great re-growing potential. The principle is simple:

  • Place the root-end of the vegetable in a bowl filled with a little water.
  • Place the bowl in a sunlit space (ideally next to a window).
  • Change the water daily.
  • The first sprouts will appear after just a few days.
  • Once the roots are well developed, transfer your vegetable to a pot filled with potting soil.
  • Around mid-May (or a little later depending on where you live), you can transplant your vegetables to your outdoor garden.

2. Re-grow vegetables using their seeds

This year, consider starting your sprouts directly from the seeds of your ripe vegetables. Some seeds need to be fermented first in order to allow the gelatinous coating around them to dissolve, thus improving germination. Here are the steps to follow for collecting the seeds from three of the most popular garden vegetables and using them to start your spring sowings:

Cucumber seeds

  • Cut a ripe cucumber lengthwise and remove the seeds and flesh by scraping the vegetable over a bowl, adding water to get equal parts water and flesh.
  • Ferment the content of the bowl by placing it in a dark space for approximately 48 hours. Once all the seeds have sunk to the bottom of the bowl, fermentation is complete.
  • Transfer the seeds to a strainer and rinse them under running water.
  • Lay seeds out on a plate and let dry completely (approximately 1 week).

Pepper seeds

  • Choose a very ripe, red pepper (preferably one that is slightly soft and wilted).
  • Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds.
  • Place the seeds on a plate and store in a dark space until seeds are completely dry (at least two days).

Tomato seeds

  • Choose a very ripe tomato. Cut it in half and press the pulp and seeds over a bowl.
  • Add approximately 1 teaspoon of water to the bowl.
  • Let ferment 3 to 4 days, or until a thin layer of white mold appears.
  • Transfer everything to a strainer and rinse under running water.
  • Lay seeds out on a plate and let dry in a dry space.

3. Choose the perfect spot for your garden

No yard? No problem! With potted gardening, you can use the space you have on your balcony, patio, and even your wall!

Before choosing which veggies to plant, consider how much sunlight your gardening corner gets. Radishes and peas, for example, can adapt to a more shaded area, whereas tomatoes and peppers need lots of sunlight.

If you have flowerbeds in front of your house, add a few edible species, like kale, basil, or chard.

You can also make your fence greener with beans or cucumbers. These vines will add to your decor and provide more privacy between you and your neighbours!

For more inspiration or tips for your gardening projects, check out our instructional gardening video capsules.

4. Get planting!

The vegetable roots and seedlings you’ve been saving are now ready, and you’ve found the perfect location for your garden. It’s now time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty!

Before you start planting, take the time to check a seeding calendar per region in Quebec for the ideal date and temperature for each plant. Spinach, lettuce, radishes, and arugula are perfect species to kick off the gardening season, as they don’t like heat waves. Next, follow these steps to plant your seedlings.

  1. Carefully prepare your soil—make sure it is raked, levelled, and scattered with good soil, which consists of compost or composted manure.
  2. For arugula and lettuce, you can scatter your seeds over the soil and cover them with a few millimetres of soil.
  3. You can plant vegetables like carrots and onions in a row, digging furrows.
  4. Cucumbers and squash can be planted in groups of 3 or 4.
  5. To know how deep to plant the seed, measure three times the size of the seed. Beans, for example, should be planted 2 to 3 cm deep.
  6. As for distance, make sure your seeds aren’t too close together to ensure your plants develop properly.
  7. Firm the soil down to ensure good contact between the seeds and soil.
  8. Sprinkle with water regularly until your plants start to sprout.

5. Take notes!

Finally, if you’re thinking of gardening for the first time and don’t know where to start, go with your favourite veggies first!

Don’t despair if you don’t get perfect results in your first year; gardening takes time, lots of knowledge, and several trials-and-errors before you get a bountiful harvest. You’ll simply be better equipped to have a lush garden next year!

Gardening is a great way to enjoy spring’s nicer weather, to teach children the joys of planting, and to get back to basics!