Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Start Planting Seeds Indoors Today
Growing plants from seeds can be exciting. If you decide in late winter or early spring that you want to try this, follow the charts and directions on the seed packets. This can be a time consuming process, because you will have to nurture the sees in an indoor setting or cold frame, but it does give you a head start on the season. You will need starting trays, flats, a special seed starting mix, a mister, lots of light, and proper temperatures. Most people's windowsills do not offer sufficient light or heat, and some plants require what is called bottom heating, provided by coils, or a heat mat to encourage germination. Artificial lights, such as those used with houseplant work well with seedlings. Remember to keep the lights just a few inches above your seed trays. The First Step Sowing Your Seeds Fill your pots or flats, with your potting mixture, up to 1/4 inch of the top. Then, level the surface. (It's ideal to water the soil and allow it to drain thoroughly before sowing the seeds.) Use a pencil to make a hole for each seed, keeping in mind that most seeds will need to be planted four times as deep as the width of the seed. For fine seeds, cover them with a fine layer of soil. What About Humidity and Moisture Potting soil should be kept evenly moist, but not soggy. Soggy soil will cause the seeds to rot. Use a fine sprayer to water freshly planted seeds or seedlings. Watering from the bottom is ideal. To keep the humidity and moisture levels even, slip your pots and flats into plastic bags. It will also reduce the frequency of watering. Another great idea is a mini greenhouse. It's the perfect way to protect, and nurture, your plants. It will also enable you to regulate the temperature, and limit exposure to the immediate environment. Lighting Some seeds require more light than others, to germinate. Read the label on your seed packet, to guide you. Once germination is complete, all seedlings need lighting to grow into healthy plants. Supplemental light can be helpful. Take Care of Those Seedlings Caring for your seedlings in the weeks following germination is critical to their . Remember, keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Small pots and flats dry quickly, so be sure to check it frequently. If your seedlings are growing in the light of a window, turn them often, to encourage straight stems. The first two leaves you will see on the plant are not true leaves. They are food storage cells, called cotyledons. Once the first true leaves have developed, it's time to start fertilizing. Choose a good organic fertilizer and use a weak solution once a week.