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How To Avoid Common Seed Starting Problems

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Growing plants from seed is fun and easy but even experienced gardeners can sometimes run into problems. Here are some common seed starting issues and possible solutions for them.

  1. Light:

Providing adequate light is critical to growing sturdy seedlings. Grow lights can supplement your natural light; be sure that your seed trays receive a combination of 16 hours of good quality light daily. They must be positioned close enough to your seedlings to keep them short and stocky; correct distance and duration will prevent them from getting “leggy” or “spindly.”  Use electric timers to automatically turn your lights on and off each day. We offer simple yet effective grow lights that use little electricity and may be used virtually anywhere because of their convenient clamp on design.

  1. Temperature:

Annual seeds will not germinate until soils reach specific temperatures. Seed starting, thermostatically controlled, grow mats gently warm seed starting trays from below, providing the perfect temperature range for germination and subsequent growth.

  1. Garden bed location & preparation:

Annual flowers and vegetables prefer rich well drained soils in sunny locations. Soils that remain too wet or those in too much shade will have growth and disease problems. A well chosen garden bed location is critical for successful gardening. Eight hours of direct sunlight is considered the minimum for most annual vegetable and flowering plants. Shade tolerant varieties require 4 hours for optimal growth.

Add compost and a good organic fertilizer prior to turning your beds. Covering garden beds with translucent sheet plastic after soil preparation can help warm cold soils. This process called solarization can also destroy weed seeds, certain diseases and insects by sterilizing the soil. It takes several sunny days up to a week to accomplish this, depending upon how high a temperature you’re attempting to achieve. Afterward simply remove the plastic and plant. We carry a product called Harvest Guard, a 5 x 25 foot protective membrane that may be used to cover newly planted seedlings to protect them from the cold, wind, and insects. It may be left on for several weeks to months depending upon the varieties being grown in your garden.

Seed starting is simple and fun; it’s a great family project too! Please come in and allow us to help you select a system that will work best for you.

 

Written By: Rick Stecher, Garden Center Manager

Success with your gardening, Naturally!

 

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