growing seeds

One of the most satisfying experiences in gardening would have to be planting seeds. Watching what you have placed in the soil and nurtured to finally thrive and bloom. Planting seeds is very cost effective and one can save seeds from this years crop of flowers or plants.

What seeds to save?

Heirloom, self-pollinated plants are the only varieties that will develop true to the parent plant... Generations past our ancestors brought seed from there homeland, and passed these down to friends and family.

When to plant

Starting transplants from seeds in your home is a good way to get a head start on the growing season. At least 4 to 8 weeks can be cut from the time required between planting and harvesting. Starting seed indoors give the gardener a jump on color and plant maturity. Growing containers and implements should be washed to remove any of last years debris and disease, then rinsed in a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water.

What Soil to use for planting seedlings

Premixed, soil less material can be bought in garden centers. Soil less mixes are more expensive than the home mix, but can be used right from the bag without pasteurization. These mixes are economical when used carefully.

The following soil less mix can be prepared at home if the ingredients are available in a local nursery or through a catalog.
  • 1/2 bushel horticultural perlite, vermiculite, calcined clay, or humus
  • 1/2 bushel coarse sphagnum peat moss or shredded pine bark
  • 3 ounces 20 percent superphosphate
  • 6 ounces dolomitic limestone or ground limestone
  • 3 ounces complete fertilizer as 8-8-8 or 12-12-12
This "peatlite" mix is excellent for starting seeds and growing seedlings to transplant size. The peat mixes with the other ingredients easier when it is moist - not soaking wet. The night before, spread the dry peat out and sprinkle with just enough water to dampen it, or dampen in the bag.

Follow these steps in mixing the ingredients:

  1. Pour the dampened peat moss or shredded pine bark and perlite or vermiculite in a rough pile. Sprinkle the fertilizer over the top.
  2. Shoveling from the base of the pile, make a second cone-shaped pile by pouring each shovel-full directly on top so ingredients dribble down the sides.
  3. Shovel from the second pile and repeat the cone-shaped pile as before.
  4. Repeat the process again. It should now be well mixed. Store the mix in clean plastic bags or plastic cans to keep it moist and clean.
Soil temperature is important. Cool soil retards germination. Cover the seed only enough to make it not visible. seed packets usually give correct planting depth. After planting the seed,water the soil gently, but thoroughly until water drains out the bottom of the container. Place containers in plastic bags or cover the soil surface with plastic wrap until the first sign of seedlings emerge. Remove the plastic cover and be sure the container gets maximum exposure to light. Most seeds do not require light to germinate, but seedlings need full exposure to light as soon as they emerge.