A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: Heeling in Pots | An Easy Method for Starting Seed in Spring or Summer

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18 May 2011

Heeling in Pots | An Easy Method for Starting Seed in Spring or Summer

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You've seen how I WINTER SOW seeds, and for the most part, they were successful this year.  The poppies, sunflowers, sweet peas and morning glories popped right up, as did the carrots, pumpkins and corn.   Love in a Mist disappeared on me and nothing ever happened to those 2 containers the babies knocked upside down! :)  OH well...

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. 

First things first - Dig a Hole

Then you simply fill your pots with soil and drop it into the hole.  
The hole should be deep enough to sink the pot in at least halfway if not deeper.  
Do you see the water mark on my pot?  That is the depth these pots are sunk.

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!

Do you start seeds this late in the year?  What is your method?


Heather Wednesday, May 18, 2011  

How neat! I haven't started seedlings before myself, but my mom always does.

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