Spring has arrived! I’m writing this at the first week of May, and even though the weather is still a bit erratic, each warm and sunny day is a reminder that growing things are starting to wake up. Of course to get a jumpstart on the season, and to save yourself from the uncertainty of potential late frost, you’ll want to start your plants indoors– or better yet in your greenhouse! Starting your plants from seed in your greenhouse then transplanting to the garden is super economical, and it will better ensure a successful and productive season. Even the smaller hobby greenhouses can accommodate many trays of seedlings in addition to whatever plants you might keep indoors throughout the seasons.
Here are some general tips to help you get your plants started from seed:
- Soaking seeds for 8-24 hours in room-temp to lukewarm water prior to planting should speed up the germination process.
- If you compost at home, you can make an excellent seed-starting mix by adding an equal amount of coco or peat moss to your compost, plus a half portion of perlite and vermiculite– also 1/4 teaspoon lime per gallon if you use the peat. Or mix peat moss, pearlite and vermiculite in equal parts plus 1/4 teaspoon of lime per gallon to compensate for the acidity in the peat.
- If unsure how deep to plant your seeds, a good general guideline is to plant three times deeper than their diameter, but some flowers and herbs are top sown, and can be sprinkled on top of the substrate.
- Depending on your climate, and method, seeds may need to be watered daily. In order to germinate, nearly all seeds prefer moist, but not soaked soil. A good general rule of thumb is if the soil is dry down halfway to your first knuckle of your index finger (1/3 to 1/2 an inch), then it’s time to water. And be sure to use a gentle sprayer so as not to damage fragile sprouts.
- By covering seedling trays with plastic wrap, you can lock in moisture and avoid needing to water very often.
- Heating mats may be needed for certain plants that like warmer temperatures, like peppers. Higher temps also means faster germination, so heating mats can be used for most seeds– set for 70 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don’t use any fertilizers on seeds or young seedlings– they’ll get all their nutrients from the substrate and fertilizer can cause nitrogen burn to plants.
- Transplant after several true leaves have sprouted, and if transplanting to a bed be sure that there’s little chance of upcoming frost.
Whether you’re starting tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, or basil, dill and chives in your greenhouse, I wish you good luck and a mild spring!
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