Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Store Fresh Herbs in Your Refrigerator - They'll Stay Fresher Longer!



A Fresh Garden Right In Your Refrigerator!

I hate it when I've bought fresh herbs and they wilted before I was able to use them. There’s nothing worse than putting out good money for pricey herbs and they turn into a black soggy wilt of a mess.
Here’s how to keep herbs fresh without having to buy special refrigerator produce bags as seen on TV or particular containers that burp when your press them but, take up too much room in your kitchen.
Fresh herbs are what make a dish pop and taste fantastic. Here’s a simple guide on how to save fresh cut herbs. It’ no fuss and you’re going to save money

How to Keep herbs such as basil, cilantro or parsley fresh for up to 10 days:
1. Pick off any leaves around the base of the stem leaving about an inch.
2. Using a sharp knife or scissor, cut the ends of the stems off. Make sure that it is a strait cut and not jagged. All the stems should be about the same length. Cutting the stems will allow the stems to absorb water just like a cut rose.
3. Place the herbs in a good weighted cup like a coffee mug so that it won’t tip over in the refrigerator.
4. Fill the coffee cup with only one inch of water. Make sure that there are no leaves touching the water.

5. Put a produce bag loosely over the entire thing and keep it in the refrigerator. The bag will keep moister and excessive cold from effecting the leaves. 
6. Occasionally check water level.
Herbs make a wonderful hostess gift for a dinner party or house warming gift. Small vases or pretty coffee mugs make the best containers. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weed Killers Safe For Dogs, Cats and Chupacabras! Safe Herbicides



Keep Your Pets Safe!

Use Only Pet and Human Friendly Herbicides to

 Kill Those Persistent Weeds


My definition of a weed is any plant that is invasive (dandelion, crab grass, sand and grass burs, etc.)

If you’re a pet owner, you’re going to have to ask yourself at some point is how important is it having a completely weed-free lawn?

If you don't mind a few stray dandelions or a mallow patch here or there, you may not even need to spray for weeds. Good old fashion elbow grease may do the trick. If you are persistent about pulling or mowing weeds, they eventually stop growing or at least decrease in population.

If you have a typical yard and not a high maintenance ‘show yard’, you may be able to keep weeds at bay just pulling them out of the lawn and placing mulch in your plants beds to prevent future weeds from growing.

There are those low growing weeds that are a pain to pull and you just need a bit of help to get rid of them. For me, the worst are sand burs and thistle.



Gardeners Who Won't Pull Weeds

So, you absolutely hate pulling weeds, you have animals and you want an alternative to getting on your knees and giving the ol’ heave hoe. I would first recommend a good dousing of boiling water or full strength vinegar. Both will kill most weeds.

The only downfall to using boiling hot water and vinegar is that it can also kill desirable grass and flowers growing around the weed. Some people will add a bit of dish soap to the boiling water or vinegar so that it will be a bit thicker and not spread as much. I really don't think it works.


Get an old coffee pot or pitcher from Salvation Army or your local thrift store
 to use only for gardening.


Always be very careful while pouring the boiling hot water and what type of vessel you’re using. I recommend a pitcher or a pan with a lip on it so you’ll have better aim. I have an old aluminum pitcher from the 40’s that I use. Any good spray bottle will work with vinegar. 

If your lawn has a lot of tough weeds like ones with burs or needles that are damaging when stepped on, you may have to use a herbicides even if your anti chemical. Some weeds are so invasive that they can wipe out a lawn and next a community. 

Junk bird seed bought at discount stores are known to have invasive weeds like musk thistle, cockle burrs or what have you. Always read the labels of bird seed and know your plants; otherwise, you and your neighbors will regret buying cheap bird seed.

Herbicides are considered man made chemicals that will aggressively kill weeds.

I recommend spot treating weeds with the non-selective herbicide glyphosate (Roundup or Milestone). Non-selective in the weed killing industry means that it will kill a variety of weeds. 


Besides using a spray bottle to administer weed killer, you can also use a  paint sponge, spoon, syringe or straw. Always wear gloves. Don't let your skin come into contact with chemical herbicides.


Be sure to aim carefully and you should be good to go. Spray the bottle first against a wall or something so, you can get a good idea of how the stream will come out.

Whether you use boiling hot water, vinegar or a herbicide, be sure to pull the weed after its dead just in case it has seed pods on which will eventually replant itself. I always pull the weed, discard it and drench the ground a bit.



When To Apply Weed Killer Spray?
 Spray weed herbicide on plants during the hottest part of the day or when the sun is high in the sky for,

It's a really good idea to keep your kids and pets away while treating weeds. Both are curious creatures and most likely will want to see what you were up to. 



Read the Labels and Know How To Spray

*Always remember that chemicals as like Roundup are easy to use but, those chemicals will also kill grass, flowers and can damage trees and shrubs through their roots. 

Most trees and shrubs have rooting systems that sprawl out, away from the actual tree or shrub. Be aware of where those root systems grow because, they can be damaged just like a weed. Always use weed killers with caution. 

If you use herbicides right, they are extremely effective, save you time and a backache. You'll want to keep at least one bottle of a good herbicide product in your garden shed.

Most people don’t like pulling weeds because, it really is back breaking work. We all usually forget the proper way to bend or reach in order to avoid injuries. I keep a bottle of herbicide on hand mainly for reoccurring thistle. I hate thistle. I have a bottle of Milestone and Roundup in my garden shed. Both are good products.



Have A Good Aim

Be Careful When Spraying Chemicals!

Here's an example of why you should know how to properly use weed killers. My new neighbor had used a harmful brand of weed killer on our fence line to kill weeds on her side. I think it contained alot of ammonia or something. She thought you just aim and shoot. Boy was she wrong. She over sprayed the entire area which bled into my yard. It pays to read the labels.

Not only did my lovely neighbor kill the crab grass and other weeds but, she also killed the beautiful heirloom rose bushes (Baron Girod de L'Ain) that had been growing there for years and she killed my St. Augustine grass that was growing on the other side of her fence. It’s been one year and I still have trouble with the grass not re-growing like it did.



How Herbicides Work

According to researchers, glyphosate doesn’t stay in the soil. It evaporates and dissipates when watered but, it will stay in the plant. I recommend keeping your pets out of the sprayed area until the foliage completely dries. Then pick the weed up the next day and toss it waste bin. As long as the dogs avoid exposure to the liquid itself, they're safe.

I don’t recommend tossing weeds affected by chemicals into your compost or green waste. You just never know what it will do.
Overall, unless I’m pressed for time, I don’t mind pulling weeds. Gardening is also a form of exercise, relaxation and stress relief for me. I like to reward myself with a lovely cocktail after a day of pulling weeds.


Types of Weed Killers - Herbicides

I have noticed after time of having a regular practice of pulling weeds that they eventually de-populate .. . that's until the California Santa Ana winds decide to blow the next batch of weeds seeds onto my property.
Safe organic herbicides are now called “Sustainable Viticulture”. It’s basically organic herbicides made from acetic acid like vinegar, citrus or corn gluten meal. They rob plants of its fatty acids and flash dehydrate them.
Corn gluten meal comes from processing corn syrup and corn starch. It’s commonly used as a safe “Weed and Feed” and it’s edible accept for folks with Celiac Disease (gluten issues). When sold as a herbicides it will usually have a bit of lemon juice in it for extra killing power. Corn gluten is safe around pets and it’ll also fertilize the ground. 
There’s a book titled “The Lawn Bible” by David R. Mellor who has a lot of good ideas about using organic ingredients as like vinegar or corn gluten, hot water in lieu of dangerous chemicals.

Organic Weed Killers That Are Pet Friendly
Other pet friendly herbicides to look for are herbicidal soaps, essential oils as like eugenol, corn gluten meal, clove oil, d-limonene, lime, borax, Milestone, Tordon, corn starch, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, dish soap, corn meal, in some cases sugar spices, household Clorox bleach, or even citrus oils. Different methods for different weeds. Planting more grass will also choke out most weeds.
Amazon.com has many organic herbicides listed or you can find these at well stocked garden nursery or home centers. Some mom and pop nurseries will be glad to order products for you.
When you go to buy a pesticide that’s safe for your pets, I recommend asking a store employee, read labels and do your research! 
When it comes to your pets.. . Safety first! Look on the label to see if it has EPA - Environmental Protection Agencies seal of approval. I'm not a big fan of chemicals imported from other countries as well. I think it's best to use chemicals manufactured in your own country as so consumer laws can protect you, your family and pets.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Easy Herb Planting Guide



Starting Herb Seeds Indoors

Starting your herb seeds indoors will guarantee a productive herb garden. Your favorite herb seeds will quickly germinate under the right conditions and will make transplanting your herbs to the garden easier than trying to get those little seeds to germinate directly in the soil. Your plants will thrive if you introduce your plants early in their plant growth. This is called hardening off your plants.

By first setting your plants outside in their growing containers for a few days before actually putting them in the ground will slowly introduce your plants to their environment. The air temperature and variable weather can shock a container plant no matter the variety.

After allowing your plants to sit outside for a few days before directly planting them in the ground will not only give you a better chance for almost all of your plants to actually survive but, hardening off your plants will also extend your plant’s life because the plant will get used to the new environment and the leaves will strengthen.


Save Money.. . Grow Your Own Herbs!

Almost all herbs are easy to start from seed. You’ll sure save a lot of money by starting your own plants compared to purchasing herbs plants at your local nursery. I’ve  seen a simple 4” basil plant sell for $3.99. Heck, you can buy two packets of basil seeds for that price!

There are a lot of varieties of herbs that will grow easily indoors. You can choose to plant indoors to ready for outdoor planting or simply grow your herbs indoors for easy access.
Indoor herb gardens are pretty, bring warmth and lovely aromas into your home and they’re down right cool if you happen to be a foodie or beginning gardener.

By growing seeds indoors, you’re also going to find a wider seed selection available to you than actual plants varieties available.  That’s always a benefit.

I enjoy using Burpee, Territorial Seed Company and Home Depot's varieties.  Both Burpee Seed Company and Home Depot guarantee seeds. I think Lowe's does too. Be sure to hang onto the original seed package and receipt. I've actually purchased junk seeds before and wished I would have saved the seed envelope. 

You can totally enjoy fresh herbs all year long by either growing them indoors, drying or freezing them or if you happen to live in the sun belt knowing which herbs grow best in your hardiness zone. 


*Here are a few herb varieties that I grow successfully indoors all year round on a kitchen window sill or somewhere else in your home where at least 6 hours of sunlight shines through.

Angelica, Basil, Barrage, Cilantro, Chamomile, Chervil, Chives, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Stevia, Thyme, Winter Savory

Herb Leaf Identification

How To Plant Herb Seeds

Plant seeds are a plant embryo. A seed’s initial food supply is stored within a protective coating. Seeds remain dormant until a combination of moisture, temperature, air, and light triggers germination. Simple moisture and warmth with dissolve the protective coating to allow that energy in the seed to sprout and break through the soil. It will then reach for the sun and its roots will seek out a water source.

Planting seeds indoors or out of doors is easy. Follow the planting guide on seed packet. I've been taught to plant seeds twice the depth of the actual seed size. I've been successful by doing so with almost all seed varieties.

Many herbs don’t like rich soil. It’s best to mix a bit of your soil found on your property (pesticide free) or mix in some sandy loom. Too rich of potting soil can actually rot the seed or a plant’s roots.

Remember to place a few rocks, marbles, or pieces of broken pottery on the bottom of your planting pots. This will ensure that the bottom holes of the pots won’t clog with soil and water can easily flow through.

Keep your seeds moist but not wet. Containers often dry out quickly so, check your plants often for moisture levels. If you stick your finger in the pot and no soil sticks to your finger, you should most likely add a bit of water to the pot.

Sunlight is essential for growing plants (natural or artificial light is fine) but, heat is more important. Most seeds need a ground or soil temperature of 65F – 95F.

In my experience, if room temperature is about 70˚F, you may need to place containers in a warm spot, such as near a kitchen stove, heat vent, or on top of a refrigerator. Some people will place a heating pad under a seed starting container. After the seedlings are up, 60˚ to 70˚F is fine.

 Most herbs like to be clipped often to stimulate growth. I keep scissors in my garden shed and in my kitchen for just that. If you don't clip herbs often, they'll want to bolt. The stems become wood like and the plant will slowly begin to stop producing.

Herbs can be dried or frozen. Most people bundle herbs and hang them upside down so that the leaves look pretty and are dried in uniform. I like to freeze herbs. Simply spread the fresh cut herbs on a cookie sheet and freeze for a few hours to overnight. Then I place them in a freezer bag. If you don't separate and spread the herbs out on a cookie sheet first before freezing and just stuff some in a freezer bag, you'll have a herb ice block on your hands. 

You can take a poor man's soup (stone soup) and make it taste like a meal made for a king with a teaspoon of any herb. Herbs are wonderful in soup, breads, casseroles, pasta, meat, poultry or simple potato dishes. Be adventurous with herbs. I decided to grow herbs myself one day when I decided to change up my macaroni-spam-pea-cheese salad. I  put a few tablespoons of fresh dill in my macaroni-spam-cheese- pea salad was amazed how a tablespoon of dill can pack a punch of flavour. 



Watering

Most herb plants plants don't need much water. I usually play it by ear.. . or rather by finger to determine if I need to water. Simply stick your finger into the planter or pot. If your finger comes out dry with no soil on it, give your plant a good soaking. 

If you watch your plants moisture level, a simple misting of water should be sufficient enough. Simple tap water is OK but, I recommend allowing your water to sit for at least 15 - 30 minutes to allow the chemicals in the water to settle or evaporate. 

If you're going on vacation for a week or so and you have no one to water your plants, I recommend putting all of your house plants including herbs into your kitchen sink, bathtub or Rubbermaid containers. The pour a few inches of water into the container. The plants will slowing absorb the water from the roots up. It's a hydroponic technique.

Potted plants usually need more water than plants in the ground. Keep an eye on your plants or you'll be sorry. Dry or arid climates can really zap the soil moisture from a potted plant overnight. 

   


Fertilizing 

My favorite fertilizer even for indoor potted herb plants is manure tea or compost tea. I like to place each pot into my kitchen sink and give them a good soaking of manure tea that has been strained. I sometimes spray the leaves as well.

The plants do have a bit of an organic smell for about 30 minutes but, it's tolerable. It's absolutely ok to also use Miracle Gro, Vigoro or Jobes liquid or crystal fertilizers. I've used both Jobes and Miracle Gro's plant sticks. You simply push them into the pot for slow release fertilizing. Fertilizing sticks are great if you're going on vacation.



Soil


Many peat-based seed-starting mixes repel water when they dry out completely. Pre-moisten the mix by putting some in a container or bag with a small amount of warm water and stirring it well. Allow the peat-based starting mix to completely absorb the water before placing it in a pot or container. Always keep the peat-based starting mix moist otherwise, you’ll regret it. Your seeds or plants will be truly affected. 

I usually mix 50/50 potting soil and my outdoor yard dirt. I've noticed over the years when I use too rich of soil, my herb plants are harder to take care of. The soil doesn't seem to drain as well will pure potting soil, the plant leaves seem a bit yellow. I think herbs actually don't like rich soil.

My herbs outside are planted in sandy loom that's been enriched with cow manure. Nothing fancy and varieties as like Italian Genvieve basil to dill bouquet does just fine. 

It's a good idea to know the difference between soil and dirt. Soil has been enriched using organic material. It's usually darker and richer than your ordinary yard dirt. 

And dirt.. well, it's ordinary dirt that sometimes needs to be amended. My yard dirt is more like sand. I can pretty much grow anything in it but, my potted plants need soil or amended dirt for good drainage. Since their growing space is limited and their roots aren't allowed to spread and seak out water.. . you have to help the plant along by giving it a bit of extra nutrients and water. 



Have Fun With Herbs!

Herbs are a great addition to cooking and their fragrance bring joy and emotion to any table, room or yard. Have fun with growing herbs indoor or outdoor. Herbs don't mind growing in whimsical pots, wheel barrels, boxes, shoes or re-purposed containers. Grow them on a wall, a pathway, window box or what have you. 




Saturday, March 29, 2014

News Flash

 Congratulations.. . I'm inviting you to Bing Rewards!


*Join Bing Rewards! You receive credits for joining and I receive credits for you signing up. By using my referral link we both receive credits to purchase gift cards. Gift cards are available for Fandango movie tickets, Starbucks, XBox, Game Stop, Applebees, Sephora, Skype, Nokia, Amazon and much more.

I often use my credits for Amazon.com gift cards to purchase vegetable and flower seeds from growers all around the world. Every now and again I'll splurge on jewelry or make-up but, I mainly use my Amazon gift cards for garden supplies. Points accumulate very quickly by just doing what you normally when using a search engine as like Google.

We all love, love Google search engine and Google is the top gun among search engines but if Bing is offering free money, why not take advantage of it? 

Get free garden flower and vegetable seeds by turning in your points to redeem Amazon.com gift certificates or luxury items! My luxury is purchasing goji berry plants, garden seeds, garden books and supplies and even sweet treats. I love trying chocolate from around the world and I'm doing it for free! Life is meant to be enjoyed.. why not enjoy freebie? Enjoy

Thank you for your consideration. Cheers ~Emma

Monday, March 17, 2014

Garden Spiders - Can They Kill You?


Get To Know Your Garden Spiders
Before They Get To Know You First!

Did you know that there are over 3000 species of spiders in North America alone? Scientist predict that there is usually a spider somewhere within 3 ft of us at all times. Yikes!

Most backyard gardeners are fearless but, we all have one thing in common. We don't like venomous bugs particularly spiders. If you've ever been stung by a bee or bit by a spider.. . you never forget it and you always have a bit of fear in the back of your mind. That's a good thing. 

Fear means that you practice caution before you stick your hand in the dark spot under a board or before you decide to stick your head where it doesn't belong. Spiders live everywhere. Some like dark places, some spiders like wet cool places, some live out in the open and some live up above and like to pounce. 

If you've ever seen the movie Arachnophobia, you'll understand the fear of spiders (arachnophobia). We all don't have John Goodman around to debug our gardens and so, you must educate yourself on what spiders can really hurt you or what spiders are just as much afraid of you as you are of them. 

We all know of the Black Widow spider but, did you know of a spider that's called Brown Recluse? They're considered hunters. They go out looking for their pray instead of waiting for their victim to land in a spiderweb. Their bite can range from being irritating as like a mosquito bit to damaging skin tissue as to where the skin is actually rotting away. 



Get to know your local spiders. If you know what you're dealing with, your less apt to get bit and you'll know how to deal with the bite if you do get bit. 

While surfing the web in search of bad spiders vs good spiders, I came across a lot of good information. I didn't know that Orkin the pest control exterminator has a great dictionary on their website of common pests particularly spiders. 

Orkin even writes about a spider's diet, habbits and behavior. http://www.orkin.com/other/spiders/

Be proactive in knowing what spiders are dangerous. We've all had a spider or two cross our paths and we just didn't know what to think of it. I'll admit to squashing a few scaring looking spiders only to find out that they were beneficial in the garden. 

Most spiders eat insects that are troublesome to humans and don't intend to go out of their way to hurt us. Most spiders are creepy because they like to live in dark places or hide underneath things. They move quicker than you think they would which tends to scare the shit out of us. The worst about spiders is that you never know where they'll be or when they'll appear. 

Most spiders don't have mouth parts that are capable of breaking a human's skin but, it's always a good idea to leave a spider alone.. . even if it is deemed harmless.

Besides the really bad spiders that can cause skin damage or harmful effects like any dangerous allergy (Black Widow, Brown Recluse, Brown Widow), staph infections or permanent damage, there are a lot of good spiders out there that eat those bad bugs which damage your plants. The good in spiders out weighs the bad in spiders. 

Even so, know how to identify spiders, treat spider bites and dangerous symptoms to look out for. In most cases that need serious attention, a physician will more than likely properly clean the wound and administer a cortisone shot. 


There are spider kits to keep on hand. I have a similar kit for mosquito bites. I don't have very many mosquito in my area and so, I'm not used to mosquito bites. When I do get bit, boy does my skin swell up. I have a bug kit that helps extract the poison/venom. I purchase Sawyer "The Extactor" and use Benadryl for the itch from Walmart. Besides Sawyer making a snake bite kit and mosquito bite and sting extractor, there's a similar kit marketed for spider bites. It's always sold out. So that must say something about supply and demand. 


Kit is good to immediately remove the venom or agent that causes major skin irritation and pain. 

Most people people don't like spiders and unfortunately we need them. Spiders are just as important to any ecosystem as frogs or turtles are. Spiders will kill those bad bugs like aphids, wasps and mosquito that will either lay eggs on your plants, completely eat the leaves of your precious flower and ornamental plants or sting you. Killing spiders will actually reduce your vegetable yield and throw off the ecosystem balance.

Remember that song, "I Know an old lady who swallowed a fly...?" Well, birds also depend on spiders and we depend upon birds. 

Spiders are predators and are out to find other bugs for dinner. Most spiders stand clear of humans. It's hard to understand that we actually need spiders in our flower and vegetable gardens to keep the damaging bugs away. Some good spiders to keep in mind which are just as ugly as a black widow are crab spiders, jumping spiders and wolf spiders. 


Scientists say that backyard gardeners should welcome spiders to benefit their vegetable and flower gardens productivity. By laying mulch like grass clippings and giving a spider a few minutes to scamper away will be most beneficial to the ecosystem.  

Other bugs to protect: lady bugs, bees and praying mantis. Spider species differ around North America. There are scary as shit looking spiders that are harmless in Mexico and cute as a button looking spiders in Vermont that are venomous. 



I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly 1964

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Save Money by Growing Annual Flowers from Seed


Show me the money.. . and a beautiful flower
Growing annual flowers from seed is money in your pocket!

Annual flowers are great to grow but, can be costly when purchasing at a nursery or garden center. Face it, we usually only buy a pack or two at a time when we actually need six or twelve. The cost for flower packs can be quite expensive. When you're an avid gardener, we don't like to pay much for garden supplies because, we have so much to buy each season. 

Annuals grow continuously from early spring to late Autumn and completely die by November. If you were smart, you would have saved seeds for next year’s planting and most of us are a bit lazy or forgetful when it comes to saving those marigold or bachelor button seeds, right?

Buying flower packs at a garden center takes a lot of time out of growing them yourself. There's purchasing seed, buying or finding the potting supplies, planting the seed, tending to the seeds daily and then finally the day comes when you can actually transplant your beloved home grown flowers.. . that's if they survived! It takes a minutes compared to weeks to buy a pack of flowers then go home and put the in the ground. So there's definitely a convenience factor in buying annual flowers rather than growing them yourself from seed.


Because annual flowers only grow from Spring to Autumn, this gives you another chance to have an entirely new garden every year. You can change annuals out in a garden to play up color, size, texture, aroma or just because you can!

Most gardeners like to use annuals to accent their gardens that already have perennials or biennials planted. Annuals can be easily be changed out or rotated. Most annuals don’t mind being transplanted as long as the root system isn’t harmed.

Starting plants from seed is less expensive than purchasing from a nursery, there are more varieties to choose from than most garden centers even offer, you can grow expensive higher quality plants and you will absolutely enjoy the satisfaction of growing your flowers from start to finish. Added bonus: seed saving!

*Popular annual flowers include cosmos, aster, black eyed Susan, bachelor button, daisy, marigold, poppies, zinnia and more. A compiled list of annuals is listed below. 

If you live in cold weather climates it’s probably a good idea to start your seeds indoors. You can use any container you want as long as it’s sturdy and has good drainage. I like to reuse containers from items purchased at grocery stores. Foods that come in a bowl with a lid are usually sturdy. Cottage cheese, yogurt, tin cans, Starbucks coffee cups can all be repurposed for growing flowers from seed.     
Note: There are annuals that don't do well grown indoors or some that are soft or delicate that can be grown indoors but, don't like to be transplanted.

A packet of flower seed can cost pennies to a few dollars. I’ve purchased American Seed Company for 10¢ from Walgreens to Burpee for $3.48 From Walmart. If you choose an heirloom variety, you can save seeds for next season. Just think of the savings! It's always wonderful to share seed or use them for seed swapping too! 
When buying seed, always check the packing date on the back. Most seeds will last three to five years if stored in a dry dark place. I've actually found seeds that I've stored away that were over 10 years old and some of the snap dragon and marigold actually germinated. It was about a 35% germination ratio. Seeds are like canned food.. they always need to be rotated every few years. 

I recommend that you follow the seed packet’s planting instructions. Planting a seed too deep will often stop germination. A seed will begin to germinate but, it has to struggle to rise to the top of the soil.
If a flower is meant for shade, plant it in a shady place. Don't expect a pansy to grow in full southwestern sun. You'll have baked pansy chips within a few hours. Unless you like baked pansy chips.. then go ahead and plant shade flowers in full sun. Wink :O)
You should never over water soil when planting seeds. Too much water can actually make seeds rot. Soil should be kept damp but, not wet.
Seed planting depth differs from seed to seed. I’ve always been taught that the general rule of seed planting is to sow at a depth twice the size of the seed. A squash seed is planted deeper than a poppy seed, right?
Hard seeds as like morning glories should be soaked overnight to soften the outer shell of the seed. Some seeds as like apple seed should be frozen for a few months before planting. There are even seeds that should be scored so germination can take place. It’s always a good idea to research your flower seed variety before jumping into planting them. The back of a seed packet is the first place to reference. Most seed packing companies (Burpee.com, EdenBrothers.com, ParkSeed.com) have great online planting information or seed catalogs that are like a dictionary for growing seeds.
With time and patience, a packet of seed will give you far more flowers than a four or six pack of flowers from Lowe’s. I completely recommend growing flowers from seed because, it’s far cheaper than purchasing flower packs from your local garden center, seeds grown in your own soil will be hardier and will adapt to your soil’s ph condition and lastly, there’s far more variety of seed packets available than actual plants grown at any nursery. Most nurseries have the usual annuals as like marigold, petuna, zinnia etc.
If you live in warm climate as like southern California, go ahead and sow your seeds directly in the ground or grow in containers outside. Tossing your seeds where you want them to grow is called direct sowing in garden terms. This is good when you want to plant a patch of a particular flower as like marigold, cosmos, bachelor button or allysum.
I’ll sow flower seed when I want a block of flowers usually of one or two variety.  I like to have more control over where I plant my flowers. I’ve also been known to change my mind about where I want particular flowers to grow. I like to change things up each year.
Starting and growing seeds in containers makes it easier to mix match plants and transferring plants to the soil is easy breezy.
Sowing seed directly can be a risky if you reside in a windy area, have roaming animals that walk through garden beds or even pecking birds like pigeons, crows or chickens.
By planting seed in containers, planning a flower garden’s color scheme is a whole lot easier and it’s simple to transfer plants from a cell pack or container. There’s nothing more discouraging after sowing seed, waiting and nothing comes up. Sometimes seeds erode or are blown away so, starting seeds in containers makes creating borders and planned flower beds easier.
Note: There are tender annuals that don’t do well started from seed indoors. Alyssum, poppies, larkspur, or even sweet peas are examples of tender annuals. It’s best to direct sow these types of flowers after the danger of the last frost or in containers outdoors. For some reason they just don’t like a control environment and like to start their little lives outside.
Purple fountain grass, Zinnia (Profusion Orange), Pelargonium (Tango Violet) and English ivy

Remember, if your container doesn't have good drainage, it will be bad for the seed and rooting system. Just take a hammer and a nail to the bottom of the container or an electric drill to make holes.
Seed sells for starters can be purchased at any garden center. Jiffy pots are a good brand that can be used over and over. I've even seen them sold at pharmacies. The biodegradable paper flower pots are great but, I’d rather save money by using something made of hard durable plastic or tin that can be cleaned with vinegar then reused.
Note: Sometimes tin cans in the summer can be too hot for growing tender plants in. We all know how hot it gets in the southwest. Painting tin cans yellow, light blue or orange can keep the cans cool. Your best bet in not baking your plants when using tin cans is to keep them in indirect sun.

Soft Annuals That Are Best Started Outdoors – Less Successful Growing Indoors

Most flowers will germinate fine indoors because they need a warm soil temperature but, for some reason flowers that are considered 'soft annuals' like to actually grow outdoors once leaves begin to divelop.

Amaranth
American Annual baby's-breath (Gypsophila elegans)
Ammi Majus – Bishop Flower, Queen Anne’s Lace
Asters
Bachelor Button
Begonia
Calendula
California and Shirley poppies (Papaver)
Caster Bean
Celosia
Cosmos
Forget-me-nots (Myosotis)
Hyacinth Bean
Larkspur
Lavatera
Linaria
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella)
Marigold
Mexican Sunflower
Morning Glory
Nasturtium
Pansies - Viola
Pincushion
Dianthus - Pinks
Salvia
Snapdragons
Spider flower - Cleome
Sunflower
Sweet peas
Zinnia Bachelor buttons
  

Hardy Annuals That Grow Just Fine Indoors and transfer with no problem.

These plants need a ground temperature of at least 60F to germinate. So if you keep your house at a moderate temperature, there should be no problem with germinating seeds. It’s best to start these seeds about six weeks before you plan on transplanting them outdoors. You can scatter the seeds in large containers and once your plants have their first true leaves, you’re ready to transplant into separate cells or flower pots. 
Use a pencil or pen to separate the plant from the soil. This is called teasing your plant. Be careful not to damage the root system when pulling the flower out of the growing container.
Ageratum
Amaranth
Balloon vine
Bloodflower
Browallia
Cape Primrose
Coleus
Cleome
Coleus
Geranium
Goldfish Plant
Impatiens
Lavatera – Rose Mallow
Miniature Roses
Petunia
Petunia
Sage
Sweet William