6:00am

Sat March 1, 2014
The Garden Report

The Miracle Of Starting Seeds

Once the seeds sprout, they should be placed in larger pots.
Credit Paix120/Flickr Creative Commons

Growing from seed to plant may appear daunting at first, but it’s a miraculous process to watch from beginning to end. In a few short months the tiny seed transforms into fruit on a tomato plant or glorious flowers. All that’s required is a moist and warm environment for germination.

Tom Throgmorton offers some tips on successfully germinating seeds.

A general rule is to plant seeds to a depth 2 or 3 times their width. Smaller seeds just don’t pack enough energy to push up through too much soil. It’s important that shallow planted seeds are watered gently and not allowed to dry out.

Seeds need a consistent soil temperature to sprout. Most seeds begin to grow when the soil is around 65 to 70 degrees. Peppers prefer it warmer and cabbage and broccoli sprout in slightly cooler environments. Consistency is the key. A 10-degree fluctuation can ruin the stand of seeds.

Be careful not to overcompensate with watering. If the seeds are too wet, the lack of air will cause them to rot. Covering the top of the tray with plastic creates a regulated humid environment.

With the exception of lettuce, most seeds don’t need light to germinate. But once the seedling pokes through the soil, a cool, white florescent light hung two to four inches over the seedlings will keep them from growing leggy.

If you have sprouted the seeds from trays they will need to be transplanted. Gently lift them out of the tray with roots and some soil intact. A sharp wooden pencil or dibble is a helpful tool. Replant the seedlings into individual containers. This is a good time to thin the herd by transplanting the strongest seedlings for the healthiest crop.

Seeds may be finicky in the beginning, but it’s a great reward and confidence builder to watch a tiny sprout successfully evolve into a giant plant.

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