I have spotted a huge growing trend ( no pun intended) which is happening at light speed here in Ohio.
After getting a dose of early spring, at the home and flower show back in February, seeds and seeding supplies were a hugely popular item.
I was shocked and in awe at the quantity of seeds clients were purchasing. It wasn’t just a pack or two, some purchased as many as 40-50 packs of seeds.
I figured it's a home and flower show, people are excited but since the 1st of March, seed sales at our store have been huge.
With prices of food rising, possible shortages, gas prices rising, I feel people are planning on becoming more self supportive with some of their food needs. Starting seeds at home and transplanting into the garden is a great way to combat that.
Growing your own food can be fun and rewarding. If you involve your children, this is a great way to get them to eat more vegetables. Who doesn't want to say ," I grew that" and they will love picking the ripened fruits of your labor when they are ready.
Here are some simple steps to help with the success of starting seeds and keeping your plants looking good until they are ready to plant.
It all starts with the seeds. Pick what you like to eat and if you're feeling adventurous, try something new.
Once you have the seeds, realize, timing is key. The old farmers say Memorial Day is the signal when there will be no more frost for the season. Some may push this window closer to the 1st week of May to the middle of May but
history has shown, Memorial Day is the safest bet. Most seed packets will list when or how long it takes to germinate as well as produce vegetables. The following is a list of some of the more popular vegetables and a list when you should sow your seeds.
10 weeks before the last frost Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, impatiens, lobelia and perennials in general
8 weeks before last frost Early head lettuce, coleus, petunia and salvias
7 weeks before last frost Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and early basil
6 weeks before last frost Early leaf lettuce, early cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale and small seeded annuals
4 weeks before last frost Melon, late basil, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, large seeded annuals and flowering vines
2 weeks before last frost Corn, annual vines such as morning glory
A Week before last frost Direct seed beans, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, squashes, zinnias
Transplant tomatoes, cauliflower, squash and cucumbers
1-2 weeks after last frost. Direct seed lima beans, soy beans, melons, herbs,
Start a second crop of kale seedlings, reseed spinach and peas for a second crop.
Now you will need something to grow the seeds in.
Seeding trays are the easiest way to sow seeds. Plug trays with multiple holes will allow many small seedlings to get started in a small area. Flats with or without drainage holes are another great investment. Add any of the numerous size inserts and a plastic humidity dome and you're almost ready to go.
New this year are hemp grow cubes and seedling mats by terrafibre, simply insert the seed into the pre drilled area and you're ready to go. I also like the Jiffy 7 peat pellets which are the size of a half dollar and about a 1/4 inch thick. Soak them overnight and they expand to and an inch and a half to two inches thick. Old egg cartons can be used as well if you are on a budget.
Next is the seed starter soil mix. These mixes are lightweight and ensure seeds are not waterlogged or are too dry. Fill your pots or containers with this soil and add your seeds. A fine dusting of soil of vermiculite on top of the seeds will complete your planting.
Keep them evenly moist until they germinate. A spray bottle or mister is a great item to have to accomplish this. Keeping them covered with a humidity dome will help keep moisture in and improve germination.
A warm area in the home is a great place to put them as heat is so important to having successful germination. Seedling mats which you plug into an outlet which are placed underneath flats help to keep soil temperatures warm . I know in the greenhouse, we have tables with root zone heating comprised of circulated warm water in rubber tubing. The warmer your soil the quicker your germination.
Once plants begin to sprout, they will need light, either natural or provided by a grow light. It is best to remove the cover as they will need fresh air. Keep the moisture of soil consistent. As they grow, you will want to turn them weekly to help grow them straight.
It is also important to "harden" the plants before you transplant them outdoors. It's pretty simple to do, set them outside in a protected area for a half day, bring in at night and repeat, increasing the time they are outside until they get accustomed to being outside all day.
The initial move outdoors should be done in the morning when the sun is not as strong in the afternoon. This will help to avoid sun burn.
Follow the list above as to when to sow your seeds, as seedlings begin to sprout and grow, with a little due diligence, they will be ready when mother nature decides to warm up. Watching these plants grow is so rewarding, the whole family will enjoy it!
And when you have a bumper crop, my staff and I always accept extra vegetables so drop them off. There is nothing like a fresh garden tomato or home grown vegetable.
J.R. Pandy, "The No B.S.Gardener"
Pandy's Premier Garden Center