As we pull out of winter and enjoy these mild days, your thoughts may be veering toward starting seeds in the next few weeks.
Now is the time to get organized for that effort and get your seeds in house. If you have started seeds previously you may have an idea what to grow. Seeds are already appearing at Monnick Supply in Marlborough and Framingham. Take some time to stop and check them out. If you are new to this venture, start slowly with a few seeds this year and if successful you can expand your efforts next year.
Here are some tips for success to make your seed starting worth your efforts.
The type of soil is very important. Regular potting soil is too heavy and it is not sterile. Tiny plants are very susceptible to soil diseases and in an interior environment you have to control all of their needs. It is best to use a soil less mix that contains vermiculite, perlite, peat, or coir (coconut fiber). Another new option is to use small peat sponges that expand when wet and fit into pots. They are expensive but can save time if you are planting many seeds.
If you are curious as to what to plant your seeds in, you have many options. You can look at the small plastic four inch pots and seed starting trays at your family neighborhood hardware store. Be sure to use a container that has drainage and will hold soil.
When starting plants like tomatoes or vegetables if you use four inch pots, the seedlings can just stay in that pot until transplanting outside. This eliminates the step of planting into a bigger pot when the plant reaches a larger size.
Once you have planted the plants into the garden clean these pots (if you are going to reuse them) with a small amount of bleach, soap and water and let them dry. This practice assures that when the next garden season rolls around you have clean pots to start.
It is always a good idea to label your seed pots when planted. You may think you will remember what is planted but this is not always the case. You can buy wooden or plastic sticks that you write on. Be sure they are waterproof and can be written on with a permanent marker.
When you buy your seed packets read them carefully. They are very informative. Try to count from planting to the set out dates. In our area, the last frost day is May 10 with 50 percent accuracy. We have a 127 day growing season normally and our first fall frost is usually around Sept. 21.
Most seeds have different light and temperature needs. For example, tomatoes need the heat from a heat mat and lots of light to flourish. Seeds germinate earlier with the heat from a heat mat. If you do not have a heat mat put your seeds in a warm spot until they sprout. Once they sprout cooler temperatures are OK but they do not like drafts. If you are real ambitious you could buy florescent lights and set up a timer that gives your plants at least sixteen hours a day of light. This is a way to guarantee sturdier and stockier plants.
Many gardeners do not start seeds with so many plant choices available at local nurseries and stores but if you have children, they love to participate in this process. It truly is a miracle.
For more information on starting seeds, contact Monnick Supply.
135 Maple Street,
Call (508) 318-4788
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm
759 Waverly Street,
Call (508) 386-9876
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm