April 17, 2008

Seed Starting

Part of spring fever is planning the garden and starting the seeds that will go in it. Tomatoes and peppers can be started six weeks before the weather is warm enough outside for them to be transplanted, so they bring "springtime" inside early.

I used to have so much trouble starting seeds that I gave up for years, but now I can bring nearly every sprout to the point of going in the garden. After that I still have some trouble, but that can be blamed on the weather, the free-ranging chickens, hungry rabbits, rolling-in-the-dirt cats, and so on. There are as many ways of starting seeds as there are gardeners, but if you want to try a different method, here's how I do it...

NOTE: I haven't been real successful at seed-starting this year, but wanted to pass along the tips that I've picked up along the way. Maybe you will be luckier. I think my house is too cold this spring.

I use Jiffy peat pellets, the little things that look like buttons. Soak them in water until they have absorbed as much as they can hold. This will mean adding water several times. I set them in a plastic tray and just add water as needed. It takes a couple of hours.

Next, add the seeds. If they are fresh, I put two in each pellet; if they are on the old side I add three. I then make a "map" of which seeds are in which ones because I KNOW I won't remember. Then stick the whole tray inside a clear plastic bag and use a twist tie to close it up so that it looks a little like a greenhouse. I used a white shopping bag this year, but the seedlings were too leggy because they didn't get enough light; clear works best. Then put the tray somewhere warm - on top of the refrigerator or water heater or someplace similar.

Hopefully, in less than a week you'll have green seedlings popping up. Remove the plastic bag, move the tray to the sunniest window you have, and water when necessary. You'll need to turn the tray occasionally so the seedlings will grow up instead of west. A fan set on a low speed will help to strengthen the baby plants. If you see any indication of mold, dust generously with cinnamon again.

You might remember reading on those seed packets that you are supposed to thin the seedlings and just keep the strongest one. What a waste of a growing seed. You can take the stems that you've cut off at ground level (don't disturb the roots of the plant that you are keeping by pulling), and set it in a glass of water. New roots will grow on the stem of the tomato plant and you can plant that one in soil too.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the tip about using the "thinned" tomato plant by rooting it in a glass of water!! I "knew about doing that", but when thinning our plants for tiny garden this past year... it never occurred to me to try that.



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