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February 5, 2010

7 Spectacular Seed Starting Tips

Here are seven tried and true tips to successfully get your seeds ready to be planted outside this spring! This was originally published in Wasatch Community Gardens' e-newsletter (USEE Institutional Members).

1. Keep a garden notebook. Keeping records from year to year will help you remember which seeds you ordered, which plants you grew and which were successful. You'll thank yourself next growing season.

2. Start with a seed starter mix. Generally, it is best to use a soiless seed starting mix that doesn't contain fertilizer to grow seedlings. It is not recommended that you re-use potting soil or use soil from your garden for starting seedlings because soil will hold too much water and these may contain bacteria or fungal organisms that might be harmful to your plants.

3. Generously and gently water. If you have a ton of plants, a watering can is helpful. However, a simple plastic cup with small holes poked in the bottom is a great, gentle way to water your seedlings indoors.

4. Thinning out. After the seedlings have all emerged, remove all but one seedling in each cell of the cell pack. Cut or pinch the stems of the seedlings you are removing; DON'T pull the seedlings from the soil. Pulling unwanted seedlings will disturb the roots of the seedling you do want. How you know if your seeds are ready to be thinned out brings us to step number five.

5. True leaves. The first set of leaves seedlings sprout are not "true" leaves, so do not thin out at this time. The first set of leaves are called cotyledons and they will wither when the first "true" leaves form (really, the second set of leaves). This step is important to note because the growth of the "true" leaves marks the start of photosynthesis for your plant.

6. Warmth for germination, sun for seedlings. Best practices says to keep seeds that are germinating warm and give your successful seedlings plenty of sun.

7. Toughen up your seedlings. Prepare your seeds for the unsympathetic outdoors by gently running your fingers over your seedlings or placing a fan near your seedlings to simulate wind and to strengthen the stems of your plants.

With these seven spectacular seed starting tips: go, plant, germinate, grow! Do you have more questions or yearn for more information? Are you not sure which seeds to start? Learn so much more at Wasatch Community Garden's Seed Starting and Heirloom Selecting Workshop on February 6th from 10am-noon. Visit their website to learn more or to RSVP for this workshop at wasatchgardens.org today!

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