Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening  

Go Back   Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening > Wildlife Gardeners Feature Forums > Feature Articles

Comment
 
LinkBack Journal Tools Display Modes
Suggestions for starting seeds indoors
Suggestions for starting seeds indoors
Published by doccat5
02-03-2009
Default Suggestions for starting seeds indoors

How to turn those tiny seeds into lovely plant for your garden? Starting plants from seed seems like a magical process, but there’s no great mystery to it. Here are few tips to help you on your way to successfully growing your own plants.

You may grow many seedlings in a sunny window, but you will have better and more consistent results by investing in heat mats and grow lights. It is possible to sow seeds one by one into little pots on your light shelf, but many plants seem to do better when transplanted once between sowing and being planted out in the garden. I usually start seeds in rows in shallow, domed seed starting trays. After the seedlings have their first true leaves (the first pair of leaves are cotyledons, or "nurse leaves"), they are potted up into individual pots or cell packs.

Use a good soil-less potting mix. If it's not a "seed starting mix" as such, you may want to lighten it with a little extra perlite. Fill your seed starting container with moist, preferably sterile mix.

I use the clump transplanting method recommended by Tom DeBaggio, so I sow the seed very thickly. There's generally no need to cover seeds; just press them gently into the surface of the potting mix. Don't forget to label the container using a permanent marker or paint pen. Jot down the date also, to keep track of germination times.

When the container is closed, there should be enough humidity to make a little mist on the inside of the lid. If large droplets of condensation form, then your mix is too wet -- prop the lid open for a few hours to let it dry out a bit. The container can be easily watered from the bottom as needed. Place it in a tray of water for a few minutes, until it no longer feels lightweight.

At the first sign of germination, I make sure my seedling tray is as close as possible to the fluorescent light tube. When seedlings have their first true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted. Looking at the seedling tray from the bottom, you can see vigorous roots searching for more growing room.

The clump transplanting method makes for very sturdy seedlings. I like the simplicity of this method. You don't have to try and tease a solitary seedling away from the massed rootlets in the seedling tray. Y You can gently separate a clump of seedlings and plant them together.

Having a larger clump of roots in the pot means you are less likely to drown the little seedlings. Damping off issues of root and stem rot are less likely when there are more roots to take up more water.

I like transplanting to pots no smaller than 48 cell inserts for standard nursery flats. Most of my seeds are started 6 to 8 weeks before planting out. Seedlings that will be started sooner (like wave petunias) or grow larger (like tomatoes) get a 2 inch pot. Fill pots or cell packs ("sheet pots") with moist potting mix, and poke a hole in the mix with a stick or with your finger.

Handle seedlings by their leaves, and gently massage their roots to separate them into clumps. The tender stems should be touched as little as possible. Mr. DeBaggio recommends you "Set the seedlings into the pot lower than they were growing in the seedling flat," preferably with the true leaves level with the growing medium and the cotyledons (nurse leaves) covered.

Gently pat the potting mix around the seedling clump. Carefully water around the seedlings to settle the potting mix around the roots. Then the newly transplanted seedlings are ready to go back on the shelf, very close to the lights for best growth. After several more weeks, they will be ready for hardening off and planting out in your garden.

Sowing and transplanting is a straightforward, two-step process. There's no "one true way" to go about it, but using covered seed starting trays and transplanting with Tom DeBaggio's clump method definitely works for me. Before you know it, you will have turned a few seed packets into flats of beautiful new plants for your garden.
  #1  
By sprucetree on 03-15-2014, 11:26 PM
Default

I've used the clump method and found using an old spoon as my mini-shovel works best.

While most non-woody plants won't add roots by deeper planting[except tomatoes] my plants get spindly and burying them up to the first set of leaves makes for a stockier plant.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
By havalotta on 03-16-2014, 01:13 PM
Default

I was always afraid of transplanting things (other than tomatoes which send out new roots along their stems) deeper than what they were after sprouting and growing for fear of smothering or rotting off their stems. Seems by this post it really doesn't matter. I just may try it.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
By dapjwy on 03-16-2014, 06:40 PM
Default

Thanks for bumping up this thread.

I missed it the first time around. I want to look more into the clump method...and now I have a name to add to the search.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sprucetree View Post
I've used the clump method and found using an old spoon as my mini-shovel works best.

While most non-woody plants won't add roots by deeper planting[except tomatoes] my plants get spindly and burying them up to the first set of leaves makes for a stockier plant.
I like the spoon as a mini shovel idea.

Today, I finally got out and "winter sowed" many (but far from all) of my collected native seeds. I'm really late this year. Normally, I get done in February. I always intend to separate the thickly planted seedlings into bigger pots, but I never seem to get around to it...and just plant them out I the fall as best I can. Maybe this year will be different.

As for my vegetable garden seeds...I feel way behind. Although, I did plant lettuce indoors a few weeks ago and even harvested some of it already. I also planted some of the blue and rose colored (flesh) potatoes that I saved from what I grew last year...we'll see how that goes--I felt I had to as they were already sprouting.

Hopefully this thread will get me started on more soon.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
By havalotta on 03-17-2014, 03:19 PM
PlantInPot

I've yet another month of rest here..Hahahahhahaaaahh
I'm not eager in the least for Winters let up. Matter of fact, it's snowing out as we speak. Topping off the ugly grey that settles in over time.

Once upon a time........... We used to make snow ice cream out of that stuff, lick upon its frosty rods. Instead, I now browse through the garden catalogs and grab at dreams. Dreams that may turn into reality if one so chooses and so choose we must. What to keep, to toss, to buy, to replace, to continue in search of.
I've plenty of time, or sooooo, I tend to think.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
By dapjwy on 03-17-2014, 06:20 PM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
I've yet another month of rest here..Hahahahhahaaaahh
I am actually not sure when I should start my veggies indoors. It just seems to me that I tend to do it a little late--each year I feel I should've started just a bit earlier. I guess this is where a journal would come in handy if only I kept one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
I'm not eager in the least for Winters let up.
I actually know what you mean this year. For the first time ever, I seem to almost be wishing for spring to hold off, but now that I've seen my first redwing blackbird, and we have more daylight in the evenings, I'm starting to gear up for spring. It took a lot to get me started on sowing all the wildflower seeds I'd collected...I had to buy more containers--twice! I guess I have a LOT more this year.

I'm even starting to want to move more rocks over to the pond area. That is a good sign...especially sine there seems to be a short window where I can do it before other things steal my attention and everything grows up around the rocks I'd planned to move, obscuring them or closing in the paths. Yay! Spring chores have arrived, and my respite is over! (Hey, I'm trying to psych myself up. Why I need to this year, who knows.)

Oh, and about moving those rocks and mini boulders, I've been going to the gym since January, so maybe I'll be up for it and more able to tackle it than past years. Go spring!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
By havalotta on 03-17-2014, 08:06 PM
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by dapjwy View Post
I am actually not sure when I should start my veggies indoors. It just seems to me that I tend to do it a little late--each year I feel I should've started just a bit earlier. I guess this is where a journal would come in handy if only I kept one.
Get yourself a calendar and write upon it when you start what. If you are not happy with how large or if they're too small ....Cross off your sow date and move it up by a week or two. NEXT year take your calendar out and start each one accordingly. Once you have what's too your liking and if you don't like looking at all your cross offs and changes you've made to your calendar, Take some time lets say during the dead Winter months to rewrite them onto a fresh calendar.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
By dapjwy on 03-17-2014, 09:02 PM
Default

The calendar is a good idea. I used to keep records of all sorts of things that way. I guess I got out of the habit. Gotta start it up again.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
By Helianthus on 03-18-2014, 11:04 AM
Default

I've started a lot of wildflower seeds in my classroom using some grow lights. I have echinacea, three types of rudbeckia, two types of milkweed and two types of bee balm going.
So far everything is looking good, but I'm see yellowing/ curled leaves on the rudbeckia triloba seedlings. I'm thinking this may be due to too much water. What do you guys think?
Every year I say that I'm going to start stuff outside in the summer, because the indoor route tends to stress me out. Once summer rolls around, though, I don't have the motivation.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
By NEWisc on 03-18-2014, 01:41 PM
Default

Yes, too much water would be my guess too. A little breeze from a fan can help prevent any damping off problems which is another possibility. The breeze will also help develop nice strong stems.
Reply With Quote
Comment

Tags
indoors, seeds, starting, suggestions

Journal Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:03 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2

Garden Article powered by GARS 2.1.9 ©2005-2006