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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Plant a Seed...

All the fresh 2015 dated flower and vegetable seeds have arrived in the store and I have already picked out my favorite varieties—some I’ll plant this weekend; others I’ll plant directly outside after the first of May. 
Because I’m fortunate enough to have one whole side of south-east facing windows, I love to start seeds indoors.  And there are a number of seed varieties, both vegetable and flower, that do best if started indoors.  Long-season vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers I start indoors at least eight weeks before the last expected frost date (about May 1 to be perfectly safe.)  These are the seeds I’ll plant this week.  Flowers, like impatiens, cosmos, and most perennial flower seeds like Shasta daisies and hollyhocks, also benefit from being started indoors.
            To start seeds, there are lots of seed-starting supplies from which to choose.  I like peat pellets--compressed peat that expands when soaked in water.  They’re perfect for planting two or three seeds.  The mesh covering on the outside of the pellet allows roots to show, alerting you when it’s time to move the seedling to a larger container.  There are also plastic trays that come with little cells in which to start seeds.  Some come with greenhouse lids available.  If you use trays, use a sterile seed starting soil.  Seed starting soil mixes are finely textured and moisture retentive, ideal for fragile seed roots to grow into.
            Peat pots, made of pressed peat fibers, are great to have when it’s time to transplant seedlings.  Most pots range in size from two and a half to four inches—this allows you to move seedlings up as needed.  And because the peat is bio-degradable, you can plant pot and all in the garden. 
            Most seeds germinate faster when given bottom heat so I sometimes use a heat mat to place under starter trays.  They’re convenient and inexpensive.  You can place seedling trays on top of a fridge or hot water heater, if you want, but be sure to move to sun as soon as the seeds sprout.
Young seedlings need lots of sun to perform well.  If you don’t have sunny windows, you may want to consider indoor grow lights.  There are lighting units that have adjustable lights enabling you to raise or lower then as necessary.  They use fluorescent tubes that will need to be about four inches above your seed trays.  You’ll need to leave them on 16 hours a day however they can be plugged into a timer, for convenience. 
There are also grow light fixtures with reflector hoods that come with clamps that can fasten onto windowsills or wherever you need them. Be sure to use light bulbs suitable for growing plants.  These lights should be no further away from your seedlings than 15 to 18 inches and, again, need to be on 16 hours.
            Some seeds do not need to be started indoors.  Beans, peas, cucumbers, squash, and melons sprouts quickly and grow fast so should be direct sowed in the garden.  Root vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes, do not transplant well so should also be direct sowed.  When in doubt, the back of the seed package will tell you the best time to start that variety.
Posted: 3/9/2015 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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