Heeling in Pots | An Easy Method for Starting Seed in Spring or Summer
In the spring and summer, the weather is too warm for sowing in tiny pots and pellets outdoors because I would have to water 3 times a day, and I would kill them in a heartbeat. Let me rephrase that...I HAVE killed seedlings in a heartbeat because I didn't water enough in the spring or summer.
I COULD just direct sow a lot of the plants that I am seeding. Carnations, Pumpkins and Baby's Breath are known to do well when you just throw them on prepared soil. The problem is that I don't know what carnation or baby's breath seedlings look like and I can't determine whether my plants or weeds are growing. SO, I grow them in pots where I know the plants that are appearing are my new seedlings. As far as the vegetable seeds go, I bought a bunch of packets of old (4-5 years old) seed that I don't know is viable. I tossed them into pots to see if anything turns up. If it doesn't, I simply put more seed into the prepared pot and I haven't wasted space in my vegetable garden.
So my method is simple, and easy and best of all WORKS. I simply "heel in" larger pots to a partially shaded bed. What is heeling in? When you bring home a bunch of plants that you don't have the time to properly plant, or it is not the right season to plant them, you simply dig a small trench, lay the plants in diagonally and cover up the entire pot with soil or mulch. When you "heel in" a pot, it is the same basic idea. You are "planting" the pot to retain moisture and coolness for your seedlings.
These pots are found a home in this neglected bed. It was recently home to 3 of those hostas, an overgrown mallow and a small colony of various weeds. The bed is fairly shady, but does get morning sun, so it is perfect for starting seeds in the heat. I transplanted a bunch of hosta into the bed that will also help shade the bottoms of the pots, keeping them cool.
This is an example of one of the carnation pots that I started a few weeks ago. There are lots of little seedlings with roots about 2" long.
I simply grab them as far down on the stem as I can and gently pull them out after a rain or watering. Then they are transplanted into the garden and I know what they look like, so I don't pull them out!