Get Ready - Grow
& March are the months for getting a head start on growing garden plants
from seed. Colder climate
gardeners can wait until late March or April to start their seeds indoors.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Seeds are so much
friendlier to the gardener's wallet. In these times of tight money, growing vegetables and flowers
from seed is the best way to save money while growing a garden.
can find seeds from nationally known seed companies at many local garden
centers. If you want to grow
special varieties, new releases, or just be able to get the seeds in advance of
when you need to plant, look to the seed catalogs. Catalogs not only come in the mail. The internet is well stocked with pages
of bounty, too.
the seed growing paraphernalia you will need:
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Trays that hold water.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Small pots with drainage
holes in the bottom.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Plastic wrap or plastic
domes to cover the pots.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Soil-less potting mix.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Seeds
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>A mist bottle.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>A watering can with a
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>A warm spot indoors.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Bright light, from either a
window or fluorescent lights.
the pots with seed starting soil-less mix almost to the top. Sow the seeds in the pots to the depth
called for on the seed packet.
special attention to the directions.
Some seeds need light to germinate, so they should not be covered with
the soil-less mix. Other seeds
have heavy coatings and should be soaked or nicked with a knife to get them to
the pots on the tabletop lightly to settle the soil-less mix. Mist the top of the planted medium with
water so that the top is wet. Cover
the top of the pots with plastic.
the planted pots into the tray.
Add water to the tray so that it is above the level of the pot drainage
holes. Place all in a warm spot. The top of a refrigerator is often warm
enough. You can also purchase a heat
mat. Bottom heat often speeds up
the sprouting of seed.
the pots daily for signs of life.
Don't let them dry out. As
soon as the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic.
let just the top of the soil dry out before you water again – BUT- do not
water from the top. Only add water
to the tray beneath the pots and let the mix soak it up from the bottom. Don't allow the pots to stand in
water. Add water, then in an hour
or so, if not all the water has been soaked up, dump out what's left in the
off is a particular problem with seedlings that are kept too wet. You can find corn gluten at better
garden centers to sprinkle on top of the soil. This will inhibit the growth of the fungus that causes
damping off disease.
the seedlings are up and growing, move the seedlings either to bright light, a
sunny window or under fluorescent lights.
If they get long and spindly, they are not getting enough light. Move them closer to the light source.
there are 4 leaves on the plants, add water-soluble fertilizer to the water
tray, diluted to half the strength recommended on the label. Smart Tea Quality Grow (TM)
fertilizer or Smart
Bio-FishGro (TM) fish emulsion fertilizer are both organic products from
Smart World Organics Inc., one of the supporters of GardenSMART.
the weather warms up, transplant the little plants into larger pots. This allows their root systems to
grow. This step improves their
chance of survival. Transplants do
better than plants put into the garden directly from their seedling trays.
the plants a little more sun and air movement every day until they are
acclimated to the outdoors. Pay
special attention to watering. Do
not let the little ones dry out or wilt.
seeds from reputable companies. If
you grow old favorites, you will get more seed for your money. Do try something new, even though it
might be a little more costly.
tried the new hybrid eggplant, Hansel, and was impressed with its vigor and
ease of growing. I used it in a
container with flowers. Hansel is
ornamental enough, with its purple flowers and fruit, to use this way. Hansel's sister, a white hybrid called
Gretel, joins the garden ranks this year.
Both are All America Selections (AAS) winners.
going to try Gretel, but she will have to go a ways to out-perform Hansel. Grow your own first choices from seed
and add at least one new vegetable or flower to your garden. That tiny seed could very well grow a
new family favorite.