BUDS Gardeners

Seed Starting

My mind is a garden. My thoughts are the seeds. My harvest will be either flower or weeds.-Mel Weldon

1. You will need sterile or soiless seed starter, not regular garden or potting soil which must be pretreated.  To moisten the mixture easily put it all in a big plastic container.  Moisten soil surface well and stir. Repeat till soil is lightly dampened.  It will then readily accept water unless you allow it to dry too much.

2. Usually room temperature (65-70) is best for growing seeds.  However, some seeds need to be Stratified (chilled soaked or frozen) first.  Others need the thick outer seed coat nicked (Scarified) to allow germination.  Once the appropriate proceee has been completed, proceed as usual with planting.

3.  You can pre-sprout seeds in a paper towel or sow them directly into containers of the seed starter.  Use the smallest container possible till the seedlings get the true leaves which will usually be the second set of leaves.  As needed and without disturbing the soil cube, transplant seedlings to their final growing containers.  Till the sale I use styrofoam cups for all but the very largest plants. Large iced tea or coffee cups work well then.

4.  It is best to water the seedlings from the bottom to prevent diseases.  Set the containers on some sort of a tray to which you can add water.  Allow water to stand just till soil surface is damp. Then remove excess water.

5.  Seeds will either need light or dark to germinate.  Once 50% of a type of seed has germinated, move the entire tray to a well lit area. Keep grow lights about 1 inch above seedlings and raise them as needed.  In general, turn lights off at bedtime and on in the morning.

6. Once seedlings have their first true leaves begin feeding with a 25% Miracle Grow or seaweed/fish solution.  At four weeks use 50% and at 6 weeks, full strength as directed.

7. Seedlings need a gentle but interrupted flow of air such a small oscillating fan.  The seedlings should move very gently when the fan turns toward them.  It strengthens their stems and helps to prevent disease.

8. If you have a greenhouse then move plants at a time when the light and temperature of each location are close.