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It’s Time for Seed Starting!
Apr 07

It’s Time for Seed Starting!

By Jennifer Torrance, Science Education Coordinator

Hi everyone, it’s Miss Jennifer from Science Education! Are you up for the adventure of starting your own seeds? Check out what is growing in my garden!

Planting seeds is not always as easy as just placing them in the soil. My cardinal vine seeds needed to soak in water overnight, while my hardy hibiscus needed me to nick their seed coats before planting. The funniest were my blue false indigo seeds who wanted a sandpaper massage before they were planted! Cold-reliant seeds like milkweed and its relatives need to live in your refrigerator for a month on a damp paper towel before growing, or you could try planting them in the fall. Make sure you read about your seeds’ needs before you plant them! Once you get your seeds ready, it is time to plant! 

Cardinal vine, aka cypress vine

Cool Weather Vegetables are just waiting to be planted outside! Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collards, garlic cloves, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard can all be planted now - anytime from mid-March to late April.  For more planting and gardening tips, check out the Phipps’ Homegrown Handbook


Annuals and Perennial Flowers also enjoy cool, rainy spring weather as an opportunity for root growth! Perennial flowers come back year after year. Allowing them to establish their roots early in the spring helps them to flourish and thrive in Pittsburgh’s ever-changing weather. Annual flowers may only last one growing season, but they put on a great show. Hardy annuals such as pansies and violas, snapdragons, and ornamental kale prefer the cooler weather, too!

Hardy hibiscus

Some plants do not like to be planted outside until the threat of a frost is gone, which is usually mid-May for Pittsburgh. You can start them indoors instead! If you have cardboard egg cartons, this is a great use for them – they are the perfect size for seedlings! Fill your egg cartons or seedling trays with good soil, a mix of topsoil and compost for best results. Find a sunny window or set up growing lights - seedlings need a lot of light to grow, and you may see them leaning toward the light. Set up a tray to keep water from dripping, and monitor your seeds to prevent drying out or over-watering.

Shasta daisies

April is a great month to start many seeds both indoors and outside. Starting your own seeds will give you a fun project to watch and care for every day, and hopefully it will fill you with the joy of spring! I hope that you find starting your own seeds to be as rewarding of an experience as I do!

For a delicious seed recipe and a fun seed yoga exercise, check out Maris and Sarah’s post from Let’s Move Pittsburgh!

Blue false indigo

Photo Credits: Jennifer Torrance