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April is for Seeding and Planting!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011 00:00

WooHoo! Spring has arrived and its time to put seed to soil. It’s an exciting time of the year, but like anything you want good results from their needs to be proper preparation to get them. Seeds are really fun to purchase and (see February is for Garden Planning) you should have your stock in hand by now. If not, go out and get them ASAP! If you choose to wait to purchase seedlings I will post information on that in the next months.
But, if you want to start from seed the first thing to do is find out what your Hardiness Zone is. After that the next important piece of information is your Frost Free Date. Keep in mind that this data is approximated based on historical fact. If you want more precise information about your local climate and ecology it’s always best to talk with local farmers or inquire with your local agricultural extension service.
Once you have your dates you can begin to plan what you can direct seed and what you will need to germinate. It’s always best to read the instructions that come on your seed packet to see what best suits that particular variety and how to plant them.

 

For Germinating:

  1. Find your location. Greenhouses are the best, but seeds can be started indoors under lights and, depending on seed, with heating mats. Note: when germinating indoor be mindful of humidity levels and the establishment of mold spores.
  2. Choose your pots. I am not a fan of the black plastic containers that are hard to manage and even moreso to dispose of. My local recycling center will not accept them. Making ‘soil plugs’ is a great method, especially over the long term, but it’s best suited for the planting lots of seed. I like CowPots because they are pots and nutrients all in one. The best part is that you can plant the whole thing right into the soil AND they qualify for Organic Gardening! Of course, what else would we do here at OP!?!?!
  3. 3.Germinating Medium. This is important, as your seeds need nutrients and airspace to properly grow. Soil from your yard is too dense and compact and compost is too rich. To make your own 1/3 compost to 2/3 soil is a good ration. Otherwise, there are many pre-made mixes that one can buy. I like Johnny’s 512OG mix personally.
  4. 4.Germinating. Each variety is different in the amount of time it takes for germination (sprouting). For this reason its important to try and keep a detailed journal and to label your pots. Noting the date, temp (indoors and out), and variety will go a long way in knowing when to plant and how successful your germination is. It will also help you for seasons to come.
  5. 5.Watering. Many people over water their seeds and actually drown them. It’s important to keep the soil moist. Try to keep the surface moist and then you won’t have to worry about heavy watering.
  6. 6.Light and Heat. Both of these are important but your seeds don’t need full sun or they will dry out too quickly. Growing lights or fluorescents work perfectly well. Heat is also important but moreso to keep the temp above 55 degrees.

That’s it for now. I’ll make a posting about transplanting in the coming months. Stay tuned…

For Direct Seeding.

For some plant varieties direct seeding is the way to go. It eliminates the process of germinating in pots and having to transplant and gets one right into the earth. Knowing your last, and first, frost date makes this process successful. Some plants need to be seeded before your last frost and some after. The same holds true for the Fall.

  1. 1.Preparation. Can’t say it enough. Figure out what you want to plant where, proper spacing, and what you will be able to plant successively. Companion planting is also really important to the health of your plants and overall garden as well as for pest management. A little time on the front end will save you lots on the backend.
  2. 2.Feed Your Garden. Your garden has been sending nutrients beneath the soil surface to feed all the microorganisms below and the weather has taken some of it off the top. Be sure to layer 2-3 inches of fresh compost over the top and turn that into the soil.
  3. 3.Planting. Yippee! Let’s get this gardening started. Enjoy this by bringing friends, family, and whoever wants to experience the wonder of nature’s magic. It might seem simple, but keep those same people engaged and see how excited they become. It’s a secret way of recruiting weeders!
  4. 4.Watering. Give your garden a healthy drink. The cold can take moisture from the soil just like the warmth, as will wind. Be careful not to overwater. Just the right amount!
  5. 5.Have Fun!! Need I say more?

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