The weather is changing and the days are getting longer. Albertans anxiously wait for all the snow to melt, the ground to thaw, and the threats of frost to flee so we can start their summer gardening. You can get a head start by starting your seeds indoors in your sunroom. Not only does indoor planting give you more options for plant varieties, it also gives you flowers and vegetables earlier.
Here are some tips to help you start your sunroom garden:
Purchase containers from your local home and garden centre. You can start seeds in almost any kinds of container that will hold 2 inches of soil and has proper drainage. Options include open flats, pots, individual containers or homemade containers like recycled milk cartons, coffee cans or plastic containers. If you use bio-degradable containers like peat pots, soil blocks or newspaper pots you can transfer them right into the ground when you transfer the plants out of your sunroom garden and into the garden outside.
Once you have a better idea of what kinds of containers you are going to start seeding in, you can arrange tables or shelving inside your sunroom. Make sure your trays or containers have access to natural light and are not too close to a heat source like a radiator or furnace vent. They should also be clear from any walkway or door.
Select a potting soil mix that is free of weed seeds, toxic substances, is able to hold moisture and is light and fluffy. Do not use regular garden soil as it is too dense and will harden into an impenetrable mass. You can purchase a seed-starting mix from your home and garden centre or make your own using vermiculite, perlite, moss or well screened peat moss. Learn more about making your own seeding soil.
Some sunroom gardeners choose to transfer the seedlings out of the starting mix and into regular potting mix when the plants start to leaf. Others wait until the seedlings are large enough and just plant them directly into the outdoor garden when the ground has thawed and chances of frost are long gone.
When planting your seeds make sure you space larger seeds at least 1 inch apart. Plant medium seeds ½ to 1 inch apart and little seeds just ½ inch apart or less. Don’t worry, once they start to grow you can snip out the smaller plants to make proper space for the stronger ones to grow. If you’re planting individual plants use your fingers to place them in their own plots. If you’re planting in rows, create a ½ inch deep depression in the soil with your finger and space them along the bottom of the row.
Cover the seeds by sprinkling them lightly with potting soil. Some seeds need light to germinate. Check the package and leave those seeds uncovered but ensure they are slightly pressed into the soil so they can latch on and grow. Make labels for each plant variety. This will come in very handy when you’re transferring the plants from your sunroom garden outdoors.
Set the pots in shallow containers of water. Disposable aluminum baking sheets or cookie sheets work well. Water your plants until the soil looks moist but be careful not to wash your seeds out of place. Place your seed containers in your sunroom and check them regularly. Keep the soil damp but do not water log it. If your plants are in flats you can stack them after sowing the seeds (as long as the specific variety doesn’t require light) but once they start to sprout unstack them so the greenery can absorb sunlight.
When can you start your garden?
Find out when the average date of the last spring frost is in your area. Most people really start their outdoor gardens on the May long weekend. Depending on what you’ve decided to plant, count back from that date the number of weeks indicated on your seed package and you’ll have your planting date. If the seed package does not give enough information, contact your local garden centre. They will know how much time specific vegetables and flowers require before planting outdoors. They will also be able to advise on which cold-hearty plants could be transplanted a little earlier, even before the last frost.
Sunrooms from Select Sunrooms
Select Sunrooms can design and build any shape, any design, any colour, whether it be for 3 seasons or for year round use. After learning what you want to use your sunroom for, we will work with you to select colour, style, and interior finishes; building your new sunroom to your specifications and desires.
Select Sunrooms will look after the complete process for you. We will design, create the required drawings, provide the necessary engineering, acquire all required permits, do all the construction and supply you with a comprehensive warranty.