Friday, January 29, 2010

Seed Starting

Now is the time of year to start some of your seeds so you can enjoy flowers and vegetables this summer. You can order your seeds online or in your local store. One of my favorite catalogs is Thompson and Morgan. It has an easy to read code, defining which seeds are easy to germinate and care for. Start with something easy to grow, like marigolds, alyssum, cosmos and cleome. Once you have mastered them, have fun experimenting with something new. I allow myself at least one experimental annual and perennial each year. You will never know if you can get it to grow unless you try and seeds are an inexpensive way to play and try new varieties.
Determine the date of the last frost in your area and start your seeds according to the number of weeks it will take them to mature. For example, if your last frost is June 1, start your seeds that require 6 weeks to mature around the middle of April. Keep in mind, growing conditions (light and temperature) will affect how quickly your plants will grow.
Use a seed starter mix which comes prepacked or you can create your own (that is another blog topic). Be sure to use clean, sterilized containers with drainage in the bottom. Be sure the seed starter is evenly moist and the containers are filled to the top and level. Plant your seeds according to package instructions and sit back and watch them grow. I like to use a seed starter mat to keep the temperature of the soil even and a humidity dome to keep the growing environment warm and humid. You will need to place the seeds in a bright, indirect light while germinating. Check them daily to be sure they don't dry out but be careful not to overwater. They don't like to be sitting in water. Stay tuned for more info on making your own seed starter, transplanting and hardening them off.