It’s seed starting time and with March’s weather starting out as beautiful as it is, let’s go over what every gardener needs to know about sowing for their fall harvest. In our region of the country, we need to be sure to start certain plants inside as the last of the cold, icy weather melts away. However, seed starting is not as easy as popping a few seeds into the soil and waiting for them to sprout. But fear not! We will take you through the ins and outs of prepping for your 2018 garden!
What tools do you need for seed starting?
Let’s start with the basics: the tools. Primarily, you’ll need
- Seed starting planting mix
- Fertilizer and/or rooting stimulators
- Seeding trays
In addition to those and to really ensure the best growth of your plants, you’ll also need:
- Heat mats
- Sun lamps
- Plastic wrap
It has the best all-around nutrition and allows for the best transplanting into the soil you have in your backyard. Fun fact: seed starting mixes are not the same as the soil you would use in your garden or for other pots around your home. And, to ensure the healthiest plants, fertilize your sprouts regularly after they’ve poked through the soil. We carry ferti lome, Root Boost, and Miracle Grow rooting fertilizers and rooting stimulators. The trays you may need, if you’re not an egg carton kind of person, come in plastic or recycled and biodegradable cardboard styles. We carry Ferry-Morse products like Jiffy Strips and NK Lawn & Garden. The non-plastic trays are 100% biodegradable and allow the sprouts to go straight into the ground from being indoors.
Which brings us to watering and sunlight. Water or mist your seeds enough to keep the soil moist but not wet. They prefer to be in humid conditions, but not waterlogged. A good way to keep the seeds happy is to wrap the tops of your trays in plastic wrap which will keep the soil from drying out but will also allow proper drainage of any excess water. As for sunlight, seeds need as much sunlight or lamp light as possible. Even a south-facing window may not get quite as much light onto the seeds for them to properly germinate. A sun lamp will ensure that they do.
The Nanodome Mini Greenhouse that we carry comes with a lamp, a light reflector, and a tray. Leave the lamp on for up to 16 hours as the sprouts start to appear. The better light they get at this stage, the better they will do once they’re transplanted. Pair the lamp with a heating mat like the Jump Start Seeding Heating Mat and to keep your seed nice and warm, well lit, and well watered.
When should you start your seeds inside?
A good rule of thumb should be about 6 to 10 weeks before the last frost. In Denver, our average last frost is around the 3rd week of May. The seed packet should give you information on how many weeks before the last frost should the seeds be planted. The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to put your seedlings into the ground when it’s still too cold outside.
For vegetables, here is a good chart to follow.
The warmer you keep the seeds, around 70 degrees or higher, the more quickly they will sprout. Keep that in mind as well, in case you are planning on a getting warming mat or sun lamp. This could speed up the growth time by as much as 7-10 days. Calculate that into the time you have mapped out to transplant the sprouts outside.
Seed Starting Is A Labor Of Love
While we can supply you with all the tools and knowledge you may need for starting your seeds and future garden indoors, your garden will only thrive with your love and patience. This begins with babying your sprouts. To ensure the highest quality plants, you will need to harden off your seedlings before taking them outside. About a week or so before transplanting, get the seeding trays outside. Start with a couple of hours on the first day and work up to about 8 or 9 hours by the end of the week. This allows them to slowly be introduced to the elements they will live in rather than suddenly being subjected to them, which then allows them to grow to their fullest potential.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” – Audrey Hepburn
And truly that is what gardening is. With all of the benefits of gardening, the best is being able to see your hard work come to fruition. Let us know how we can help you achieve that. Call, click, or come in and see us!