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Now is the time to think about getting ready for seed starting. Growing your own plants from seed is a lot of fun and economical.  It allows you to have a diverse selection of flowers and vegetables at “pennies on the dollar” when compared to purchasing finished starter plants. Here are a few ideas to help you be successful!

Freshness Counts:

Remember to check the expiration dates on your seed packs.  Older seeds will have significantly diminished germination rates. I suggest purchasing new seeds each year for indoor starting. I usually reserve older seeds for direct (in the ground) planting. Time and “seed tray real-estate” is too valuable to waste on dud seeds.

Seed Starting Vessels:

Seed starting trays and containers help to organize and maintain your flower and vegetable seedlings.

Multi-cell dividers with matching trays and humidity lids make the whole process very easy. Just fill the individual cells with a quality seed starting mix; carefully plant your seeds according to the seed packets instructions, water and cover. Other options include, Jiffy pellets, Peat Pots, Cow Pots (made from compressed cow manure), recycled egg cartons, and other similar containers all make great seed starting vessels. Place these into seed starting trays to make watering easier.

Seed Starting Soils:

Many gardeners like to make their own soil-less mixtures or purchase ready-to-go mixes here at Van Putte Gardens. They are usually a mixture of peat moss, milled sphagnum peat, vermiculite and perlite.

They are sterile, light weight, and retain just enough moisture while still allowing air to penetrate.

There are also mixtures that contain compost along with the components listed above. These are often enhanced with beneficial microbes that will colonize the roots of your seedlings, helping to ensure that they thrive.

Temperature and Light:

This is where people may run into trouble with their seed starting project. Maintaining the proper temperature range and providing lots of light are the two most critical factors when starting seedlings.

Placing these trays on a thermostat controlled heat mat maintains the proper soil temperature and guarantees good germination. Place in a bright light location and supplement with grow lights to keep seedlings from getting leggy and spindly. 14 hours of light a day would be optimal.

Gently water with warm water that has been allowed to breath for several hours (to eliminate chlorination) will help young seedlings thrive.

Supplemental Nutrients:

Seedlings require nutrients to grow. The soil-less mixes generally do not have sufficient quantities so a fertilizer supplement is necessary. Houseplant fertilizers may be used at very mild doses, typically ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water. Stop in at Van Putte Gardens and one of our green thumb specialists will help you select the best seed starting materials and accessories to assure your success.

Success with your Gardening, Naturally!

Written By Rick Stecher – Garden Center Manager

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