top of page

To seed or not to seed?

Who says you need a sprawling backyard to experience the joys of gardening? As an urban dweller, I've created a delightful side yard agricultural center (as my husband calls it), that will hopefully give us beautiful herbs and vegetables all summer. This year, I took a different approach and kickstarted my garden right in the comfort of my own dining room!

Seeding your pods

Historically, I'd go to a nursery or garden center down the street to snatch a few planting-ready herbs and vegetables. This year I decided to take on a new challenge - growing sprouts from seeds! So now I'm here to share the experience and answer the question: to seed or not to seed?

I started this journey in March filled with enthusiasm. Using Eden Brothers, I ordered packs of seeds - from cucumbers to watermelon, zucchini, fennel, heirloom tomatoes, Italian herbs and chives. I had to hold back from getting more!

Step 1: Sow indoors

As winter frost was still making its appearance every few days, I began to seed indoors. Choosing the right pod for your seedlings is like finding the perfect cozy home for your plants-to-be. After some research, I settled on biodegradable seeding pods made from peat; they provide excellence drainage and aeration for our little green companions. I labelled my pod trays and quickly purchased artificial light to give the seedlings motivation to grow. My dining room quickly transformed into mini greenhouse with pods filled with seeds.

Step 2: Wait, wait, and ..oh wait, there's one!

Some seeds sprouted in a matter of days, and some others - several weeks! The artificial light was key to make sure they were getting the love they needed. First runners were my cucumbers, basil and chives. Zucchini was quick to follow along with some other herbs. Watermelon and melon took over a month to sprout - but my patience paid off as several decided to show up to the party right as I was giving up.

Step 3: The great transplant

The moment finally arrived when some seedlings were sturdy enough to brave the great outdoors. With a mix of anticipation and fear at what the elements could kill, I began to transplant my seedlings in their garden beds. Key to this endeavor is researching which ones are good companion plants and what herbs can help naturally deter pests and bugs. Key to note are the dynamic duo of basil and garlic. These aromatic herbs not only enhance our dishes but can also act as effective natural repellents like mosquitoes, flies, aphids and whiteflies. You can intermingle basil with all other plants that may be more susceptible to these bugs, and harvesting basil will also release their aroma which in turn deters pests nearby. Garlic can help repel aphids, cabbage worms, Japanese beetle and snails; you can plant it strategically like basil or create a garlic spray (see recipe below). While not all my seedlings have graduated to the great outdoors, my garden bed is progressively getting fuller.

Recipe: Garlic spray

  1. Crush a few garlic cloves and soak them in water for a day or two

  2. Strain the mixture and dilute it with water

  3. Use it as a natural spray on your plants to discourage pests (start lightly)


While growing seeds in my dining room has been an enchanting adventure (and a nice distraction between zoom calls), it is harder than it seems.

Urban garden bed

The downside is that some seeds take weeks and other days to sprout. Not all seeds sprout and there's no explanation why - leaving the curious minds puzzled on what it takes to be a good seed mom. If you wait too long to transplant, a couple may die before they graduate to the garden beds. More importantly, you can go through 2 months of effort nurturing them in your home and then discover they are struggling in the outdoors (leave it to a good storm the night you transplant).

The upside is the delightful experience to watch them grow from the pods knowing you placed them there and helping them find a new home in the garden bed. However, I wouldn't recommend it for everyone - especially if you like fast results and quick production from your plants. Next year I will definitely buy more pre-grown plants as I believe there is a higher chance of survival and I will likely reap more output from my plants sooner.



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page