Browsing Category

Seed Starting

In Seed Starting

Seed Starting Resources


I’ve put together this list of seed starting resources to help gardeners of all abilities. Are you new to gardening? Starting a garden for the first time, or just getting into starting a garden from seed?

Welcome! I’ve put together a list of all of the resources I’ve created on Home Garden Joy to help you get started on the fun adventure of starting a garden from seeds.

Seed Starting Resources

Starting Seeds Indoors: Heirloom Seeds

Are Organic Seeds Better

Choosing Garden Seeds

Continue Reading →

In Seed Starting/ Vegetable Garden

When Should You Start Tomato Seeds Indoors?

garden tomatoes growing on the vine

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive about seed starting is, “When should you start tomato seeds indoors?” Let’s take a look at tomatoes and how to start them from seeds.

If you plant to grow just a few tomato plants in containers or pots on your balcony or desk, you are better off purchasing plants from your local garden center or nursery. You will get better results and save money and time. If, however, you wish to plant many varieties of tomatoes in a large garden, then starting from seed is the most economical approach.

Continue Reading →

In Seed Starting

New Video! How to Read a Seed Catalog

Learn how to read a seed catalog here.

You probably get seed catalogs in the mail at this time of year (and if not, what are you waiting for? Sign up for some!). Seed catalogs are more than shopping goldmines. They are a wealth of information about the plants you intend to grow in your garden.

Although each seed catalog is designed differently, they all contain basic information that can help you choose the best plants for your garden.

Join me in this brief video on how to read a seed catalog. Visit the new Home Garden Joy YouTube channel for more gardening videos (and one trailer for my mystery novel!)


In Seed Starting

Should You Start Your Container Vegetable Garden with Seeds or Plants?

Should you start your container vegetable garden with seeds or with plants? The answer depends on what you want to grow.

Should You Start Your Container Vegetable Garden with Seeds or Plants?

At this time of year, the garden centers are full of enticing plants. You’ll find tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, kale, lettuce, herbs…you name it, you can probably find plants waiting for you.

But along with plants are seeds – racks and racks of seeds. And sometimes you’ll see the same type of plant and seed available at the same time.

So which should you buy? What grows best in your container garden?

If you’re new to container vegetable gardening or indeed to gardening of any kind, it can be confusing to shop for supplies. Many new vegetable gardeners wonder whether they should spend their money on seeds or plants.

It really depends on what you want to grow.

First, you can start nearly all vegetables from seeds (or starter plants/roots). Some are trickier to start than others. Most gardeners, myself included, like to start most vegetable plants from seed because we can choose from among a huge list of varieties that you just can’t find at the store.

If you’re new to gardening, however, the easiest way to start your garden is to purchase starter plants at the garden center for certain plants.

Buy as plants:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs (all kinds)
  • Strawberries

Buy tomato plants – it’s easier!

Buy seeds and start plants directly from seeds:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Sweet corn
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Peas

Lettuce is best grown directly from seeds, even in containers.

“Sets” is the term for roots of certain plants such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and garlic. It is easier to start these vegetables from the root portion, so the companies selling plants and seeds, called nurseries, bag groups of roots (sweet potatoes, asparagus, strawberries) or bulbs/starters (potatoes, onions, garlic). You plant them directly into the ground.

I know it’s confusing if you’re just starting out. When in doubt, ask at the garden center, or start with a plant. It’s almost always easier to start with a living plant than with seeds if you are new to gardening and especially for container gardening.

Good Plants for Your Container Vegetable Garden

The best plants for a container vegetable garden are the ones you will enjoy, and those that produce the best-tasting vegetables when fresh. Most people start with tomatoes, peppers, and sometimes herbs.

Do you have questions on container vegetable gardening? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will be happy to answer them.


In Seed Starting

Seed Starting Update

seed starting

Since the unusually cold weather has kept me indoors again, I thought I’d share a brief seed starting update.

By now, I’m usually out in the garden, “planting my peas on St. Patrick’s Day” and getting the new trellis system installed.  But the cold – the cold! UGH! It’s been going into the low 20s at night and yesterday, the temperatures reached the mid-40s. This is January weather here in south central Virginia, not March weather!

Hopefully, by this weekend, the weather will warm up again. We are expecting a little bit more seasonal weather and I’m planning on planting those peas, as well as lettuce and radishes.

In the meantime, my seed starting update is positive.

The tomato seedlings are growing like crazy! I had an old package of “Early Girl” tomato seeds and decided to plant some just to see if they would grow. While older, opened packages of seeds often fail to germinate, not only did these seeds germinate but they seem healthy and vigorous. If I can only figure out how to keep the crows from eating the ripe tomatoes this year, I should have a good harvest.

seed starting update

Last year, I purchased clary sage seeds from Select Seeds. I grew about six or seven plants and gave a few away to friends who love herbs as much as I do. Six plants remain in my garden beds. To my surprise, those growing in the most neglected of the flower gardens – hot, dry, and without supplemental watering – grew the best. Any plant that thrives on neglect finds a place in my garden. I decided to plant the remaining seeds and see what germinated. So far we have about four more plants but it’s early days yet. I am hoping for more clary sage seedlings.

seed starting

Can you see the tiniest little seed starting project above? Those tiny little plants are about the size of a grain of rice or smaller. This is St. John’s Wort. I purchased the seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds and plan to grow this beautiful, useful perennial both for the yellow flowers and for its medicinal properties. Although St. Johns Wort has received much attention as an antidepressant, the flowers can be made into a useful antibacterial/antimicrobial salve and tincture.

My brother photographed mature St. Johns Wort plants in Maine and they were so beautiful I decided to add the plant to my own garden this year. This will go in the new perennial garden area we cleared this winter. The flowers remaining in that garden are all yellow, and I plan on a yellow and blue theme with St. Johns Wort, daylilies, and irises as the yellows and plenty of salvia and sage for the blue-colored flowers.

seed starting

Here’s a picture of this year’s seed starting tower in my basement. The plants on the bottom shelves are just a few African violets that have been repotted or need repotting. African violets love fluorescent lights and will frequently produce buds and flowers if you move them under brighter lights. I am growing these violets for the Heart of Virginia Master Gardener plant sale this spring, so by May, I hope they are nicely greened up and blooming.


That’s all that’s happening here at Seven Oaks Farm. I had hoped to get outside and put up that new trellis system but it will have to wait until it is warmer out. I hope your seed starting projects are going well. Happy gardening, and keep growing!