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Watch this brief video on key tips to seed planting that will lead you to germinating success.
What’s next? Check out this tomato play by play for next steps and what to expect.
Let us know how your seeds are doing. Tomatoes are only the beginning…more advice on other veggies and spring flowers coming soon.
It’s time. With the last chance of frost set for April 15, it is time to start those tomato seeds. Co-blogger Chris and I worked on ours this weekend and created a series of videos to help you through the seed starting process.
First one up: How to use recycled containers to start your seeds?
What containers are you going to use for your seed starting?
Stay tuned for more seed starting tips this week.
My little sister gambles with seeds–
“Take my Astilbes,” she tells me. “I bought a 3 dollar pack of seed from Summer Hill. 12-15 plants are up–and if they make it, that’s $7-10 a piece.”
The math is irresistible. Seeds are the most cost-effective way to build your garden, and a whole of lot of fun to boot.
She has large flower beds and focuses primarily on perennials and biennials. Hollyhocks are her favorite, and there are about 5 or 6 varieties in the family room right now.
An almost endless selection is another big bonus of starting from seed. Summer Hill offers two and a half pages of hollyhock varieties alone. You’d never find all those choices at the garden center–there just isn’t enough space.
A few more tips from the master (who just reminded me, our last frost date for zone 7, April 15, is only 8 weeks away):
- Start with warm, moist growers mix. She keeps her’s in a plastic bin in the house (don’t tell her husband).
- Bottom water seed trays with warm water, but don’t let plants stand in water endlessly and get soaked. There is a big difference between moist and wet. Wet kills baby plants.
- She also uses a camomile tea bath to prevent “damping off”, a condition that levels sensitive seedlings.
- And starting from seed is for people who like to check their seeds everyday. If you have 16 little kids, travel a lot or work 18 hours a day, maybe it’s not for you. (Then again, maybe it will save your sanity)
But even if you fail, it’s not big deal. With seeds the risks are small, the rewards large.
Tomatoes, peppers and vines are my favorite seeds–How about you? What do you enjoy starting from seed?
Melissa had a ton of comments and questions about my post on perennials from seed, and a short reply, twitter or tweet just won’t do. Seeds are complicated. Sorry. I love that Melissa is jumping in with both feet–dabbling in one of the aspects of gardening I enjoy most– but books have been written on seed starting. After all–It’s the sheer variety of seeds that makes them so very cool–
On the other hand–my very first gardening success at the age of 8 was with seeds. Simple–but complicated. Does that make any sense?
First–as Melissa says, it is easy to get out of control with seeds. After all–they are little miracles. But no one ever went to prison or lost the family farm buying flower and vegetable seeds. It is a small fault. If they put on my tombstone–”She was a Sucker for Seeds” I will be happy. It is a nice place to lose your heart. I do overspend each winter–but less than the price of a single pair of shoes. Besides, seeds are very American. When our forefathers first came to this country–among their most precious cargo–seeds from home.
So honor your ancestors. Respect your seeds. When the packages arrive, at least read the back. Some have standard gain-of salt printing but many seed packs come with good info–like days to germination, height, annual or perennial. Look for the words or letters, HA for Hardy Annual, HHA for Half hardy annual or HP for hardy perennial. That will give you a clue about Melissa’s question, “What seeds do you start outside, and what do you start inside under lights?”.
Rule one–anything that says HA for Hardy Annual needs to be started outside in winter. Hardy Annuals are the great secrets of the South. We can grow English flowers like Larkspur, Sweet Peas, and wonderful Shirley Poppies if we start them outside in the fall. These plants don’t like hot weather and hate transplanting…which leads to another seed subject–transplant shock. Sounds terrible and it can be for fast growing annuals like Zinnias, Cosmos and Marigold. These HHA will always do better is if they are sown in the ground where they are to grow once the weather warms up. Sounds really simple, doesn’t it? But, unless you have a field for cut flowers, do you want weeks of bare space in your garden? I compromise, growing Zinnia and Marigolds in big pots outdoors until they are presentable, them putting them in the garden and treating them really nice.
I use Professional Growers Medium for all my seed starting. I buy this at a quality nursery or Seed and Feed Store (Big Bloomers, Campbell Road Nursery, or Stone Brother and Byrd in Durham). Stay away from cheap potting soil–”Moisture Mix” and “Feeds for 6 Months” blends. Get your professional potting mix moist before you start–then bottom water when the surface is dry. And mix a tiny bit of Peter’s or other water-soluble plant food in the water. Your seedlings need a little food–too much will make them spindly. But that is another post–”Spindly seedlings and how to avoid them”. I’m out of time and words. Just remember–experience is a great teacher with seeds. Melissa is doing the right thing–jump in and give them a try.
So what about you? Any seed hints or big successes to share?