Starting Seeds for Spring


Spring is right around the corner. Time to start seeds for your garden.

By FamilyTime

 

For many gardeners, starting seeds indoors is not only efficient and economical, it is joyful. What better promise of warm weather than the start of the spring and summer garden?

The general rule for starting seeds indoors is to plant them six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Check the Farmer's Almanac, the local garden club, or fellow gardeners to discover when that is.

Even seeds, that could be sown directly into the soil such as marigolds and zinnias, get a jumpstart when started indoors. The plants will be stronger and healthier right from the get-go. Annuals will bloom earlier in the season, and perennials and biennials will be sturdier.

Vegetables, which very often need warm soil to germinate, benefit from an indoor start.

Choosing Seeds
Seeds vary from floral annuals, biennials and perennials to vegetables. The trick is to know what kind of seed you want.

Will you plant heirloom or organic seeds, or are run-of-the-mill hybrid seeds all you need?

Heirloom seeds are for old-fashioned and sometimes unfamiliar strains of plants - usually vegetables. The most popular heirloom seeds are for tomatoes. Typically these tomatoes look far from perfect but are bursting with flavor and fragrance and tend to be colorful.

Heirlooms often are more expensive than other seeds and must be ordered from special seed catalogs.

Organic seeds typically are for herbs and lettuces. You can buy them at some local nurseries but it's a better bet to order them from a specialty catalog that sells certified organic seeds.

Search the Internet for seed catalogs - you are sure to find anything your heart desires.

How to Start Seeds
Starting seeds is a simple process. It requires paying attention to light, water, and temperature and not much more. Follow the directions on each packet for the particular needs of that plant.

Check to see how long each plant takes to germinate and make note of when to plant them outdoors. While it's great to start them indoors, leaving them inside for too long can harm their ultimate success outdoors. They can be poor bloomers and slow growers.

Many gardeners keep a log that records what and when the seeds were planted, when they started to sprout, and when they should be transferred outdoors. This is a valuable record to update and refer to in subsequent years.

Growing Tips
Any small containers work for starting seeds. Recycled cardboard egg cartons make perfect homes for baby seeds.

Buy a soil-less mixture at a garden shop and plant one or two seeds in each container. Keep the mix moist but not saturated.

Label each kind of plant when planting more that one variety. Seedlings are very hard to tell apart from one another.

Regardless of how sunny they are, windowsills in cold climates are too cold for seedlings; any draft may be enough to stop the germination process. If you have a lot of light in your kitchen, the top of the refrigerator may be a safe and warm place to grow seeds.

Fluorescent lights are a good source of light and many gardeners rely on them. Position the light about an inch above the containers and set a timer so that the seeds get 14 to 16 hours of light a day.

To maintain a good, warm 75-degree environment for the seedlings, put clear plastic over the containers. As soon as sprouts appear, remove the plastic and move the plants to someplace where the temperature is between 65 to 70 degrees.

Watch your garden grow!