Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home Living: Starting Plants from Seed

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

At Home Living: Starting Plants from Seed

Article excerpt

Is anyone as antsy as me to see something growing and green? Winter does drag on with very cold days and then warm days that tease us unmercifully! Where is a good garden when you need one! The Kansas Garden Show, of course going on this weekend at the Kansas Expo Centre. That is where I am getting my gardening "fix." Then I plan to start seeds in my home. I am finding seeds either locally, at the Garden Show, or from catalogs. If you have never done this you have to try it. The thrill of watching the "babies" come up, grow into tiny plants and then into gorgeous flowers is so uplifting, especially when you have a hand in it.

Start with good seed (annuals and vegetables are easiest). Some of you like to save seed from past seasons. Many of those seeds will be just fine, others may have low germination rates (they don't store well or were stored improperly).

I like to use 11 inches x 21 inches flats with clear, raised lids to germinate the "babies". Foil cake pans with clear plastic lids, styrofoam cups, half milk cartons etc, with glass from picture frames, or plastic wrap can work. You want to create a type of terrarium that will generate its own water cycle. Once the soil is wet and seeds are planted, put the cover on and overnight the "rain" cycle should begin. If the lid is dry in the morning the soil/seeds need to be misted enough to become very moist but, not soggy. Be sure to put drainage holes in the bottoms of the containers.

Purchase good soilless potting mix from local nurseries (Name brands have the best qualities). Mix the soil with water in a bucket (easiest way to wet the soil). Squeeze a handful of soil. If water runs out the soil is too wet, if no water runs out it's too dry, if a few drops run out it's just right. Place a 1-1 1/2 inch layer in the bottom of the potting container. Deeper soil can be a problem because it allows water to move away from the seed and rooting zone. Note: Soil from you garden has too many disadvantages when used in pots.

Sprinkle seeds in rows. If seeds have the same germination times, temperature, and light requirements place several kinds of seeds in the same flat. Be sure to label them. It will be important when its time to transplant. Large seeds such as marigold and tomato need a light covering of soil. Small seeds won't need any covering. Mist the container heavily to settle the seeds into the soil. Cover with clear plastic lids. Some seeds require darkness to germinate (read their package to find out); cover the plastic with something that will block the light. Most seeds will germinate in a few days.

The soil needs to be between 70 and 80 degrees for good germination. I use a greenhouse heating pad with a soil probe for temperature regulation. A waterbed heating pad and a thermometer can work. …

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