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Starting Seeds

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Spring has sprung, and it's time to Get Growing!

For those of you who can’t wait ‘til all the snow melts to get your hands dirty, easy indoor seed starting is a fun and productive way to get a jump on your garden! First, assess the space you will “raise” your seedlings, because yes, it is much like caring for children.  You must feed them, water them, talk to them… well, that last one is optional.   

We suggest a “No Hole” seedling tray to catch your water, filled with smaller containers that have good drainage holes.  Recycled plastic strawberry flats or yogurt containers with holes punched in the bottom are an inexpensive way to try many varieties. Those whole broiled chicken containers are a perfect way to start small because the bottom is black and the top clear cover serves as a humidity dome for the seedlings. It is best to bleach water clean whatever you plan to put soil into, even last year’s pots sitting in your garage. Use a 10 percent bleach with 90 percent water solution. Bleaching or throwing them in the dishwasher eliminates the possibility of spreading fungus or disease to your plants right from the get go.  

1. Soil - Fill containers with good sterile potting soil or seed starting mix (which is simply an ultra-light potting soil. ) Never re-use old soil or dig outside in your garden bed for seed starting.  

2. Seed - Very tiny seeds like lettuce and spinach can be left on the top of soil and softly spritz with water or bottom irrigate with warm water. Larger vegetable seed can be lightly covered with soil.  The website at ivygarth.com gives easy to follow guidelines on growing any vegetable and flower varieties from seed through harvest.

3. Cover with plastic wrap or a raised germination dome until sprouts are to up to keep humidity high. Place toothpicks or popsicle sticks with plant labels throughout the soil to keep plastic off the soil. 

4. Heat - All seeds need warmth to germinate, however all have very different temperature needs. During the first two weeks a heat mat keeps your soil temp in your house at about 70 degrees, ideal for sprouting.

5. Light - And God said “Let there be light!” Sunny windows are good, however, you will have the best success with your indoor projects if you have additional light hovering 6 to 8 inches over the seedlings with a full spectrum grow light. 

6. Air & Moisture - Make sure you take off the plastic germination cover after the plants are up.  Do not over water... you will LOVE THEM TO DEATH. A spray bottle with a gentle mist is best to water with until they are strong, 3-4 in. transplants. 

7. Fertilize - After the true leaves (second set of leaf branching) use a weak 20-20-20 fertilizer at ¼ strength whenever you water. (1/4 tsp per gallon.) 

8. Transplant & Separate - You will notice you may have got a little carried away and have a nice thick stand of tomatoes. After the seedlings get to be about 2-3 inches, carefully scoop out a chunk of dirt and separate the plants into larger, individual pots, burying the roots well up to the crown of the plant.  Use a granular or liquid transplant fertilizer such as SuperThrive, B1 or Dr. Earth Transplant Food in the soil to ease the stress on the plants after transfer. Continue to fertilize weekly with now half strength 20-20-20.   

Cheers to Growing!

Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+ acre farm and now is co-owner of All Seasons Garden & Floral in Sandpoint,  She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 16 years in North Idaho.  You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes at [email protected]

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Nancy Hastings Nancy Hastings grew up on a 300+ acre farm and is co-owner of All Seasons Garden and Floral in Sandpoint, She and her husband John have been cultivating community gardens and growing for 15 years in North Idaho. You can reach them with garden questions or sign up for classes atllseasonsgardenandfloral(at)gmail.com.

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gardening, Get Growing, starting seeds

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