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Starting seeds

March 22, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

It is a beautiful time of the year.

I am always so glad that we live in an area that all I need to do in order to convene with nature is to step out my front door. Smell the air, listen to the birds and look and see what is or isn't coming up in my garden. The geese are in high numbers again this spring and the birds are returning at a fast clip. I feel like I should be out planting something or other but yet, I know, it is just a bit too early.

We gardeners tend to think much along the same lines if I can properly guess from all of the fellow gardeners with many questions about starting seeds. There are many of you who have been busy bees this late winter or early spring.

There are many who have tomatoes that are already up and moving along, with early reports of tomato seedlings at 2 inches or more in height. Onions, peppers, cabbage plants and more are all being seeded as you read this and most are coming along very nicely for being planted at this time of the year.

There are a few tricks of the trade for those of you who are out there and would like to start a few seeds this spring for you own garden. The most key ingredient that involves seed starting is to use sterile potting soil or medium.

The number one problem that we all can run into is something called damping off disease where the little plant comes up and then sort of looks pinched off right at the soil level. This is caused by organisms that live in non-sterile soil.

There are many different kinds of pots and containers that are available for us to start our seeds in. The best way to choose these is to look closely at what the seed package recommends.

There are some plants that are not in agreement with having their roots disturbed and thus, the plastic pots are last on the list. These would be better served by using the peat pots or a similar pot that you can plant right into the ground with the plant.

You can also start some slow starting "bulbs" indoors as well. Bulbs, rhizomes, and other tender bulbs can sometimes take a long time to get going. These can be started in pots, indoors and then moved outside once the danger of frost has come and gone. Oh, and by the way, the traditional day of last day of frost is around May 15 in our area. As well all know, it can vary by a few days to a few weeks. It just depends on how fickle Mom Nature is this spring.

Once your plants are up and going, you may need to move them into larger pots, so you will need to plan ahead a little bit. You can also use a weak solution of fertilizer on them to encourage them to keep growing. You don't necessarily need a grow light. If you have enough window space, this is often times the most light that you need.

If you don't have enough window space, a regular shop light that is fluorescent will also work. The rule of thumb for using artificial light is that the light needs to be around 6 inches from the top of the tallest plant that is underneath it. This will help to keep the plants from getting leggy or spindly.

For more information on growing seeds in your home for your own garden this spring, check out the Minnesota Extension gardening section at www.extension.umn.edu or email me at stephanie@starpoint.net

 
 

 

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