Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Seedy Gift & Successful Seed Starting Tips

Don't you love it when hubby shows up with a gift? Especially one that proves how well he knows you? Hubby did just that when he brought home a greenhouse last night. Since Robin posted about Winter Sowing late in January I've been frantically looking for a shelf system to meet my needs. It's been a difficult search as most of February our garden centers were still in the midst of "seasonal" stocking. At last, they've brought out the real goodies... the garden gear! Yippee!

I think hubby was fearful that I was going to try and "repurpose" his workshop shelves...I had threatened to steal his workshop lights. So tada! Greenhouse gift! And just in the nick of time too... It's finally time to start my peppers! As I've admitted I have had difficulty with seeds before. Matter of fact, my three year old was "helping" to assemble the greenhouse last night and asked, "What's this for?" Daddy answered, "For Mommy's seeds." To which she said, "Mommy's seeds don't grow!"

Seed starting can be overwhelming. And the information available tends to focus on how to start the seeds which is a pretty straight~forward task. To help improve my seedy chances this year I've ignored all that info and bought the peat pellets. I've heard good things about the pellets and am ready to give them a try. Through my research I've found these really simple starter's guide to:

Seed Survival~The Basics
Provide your seeds with the following for happy seedlings.
  • Light! You have two options natural or fluorescent. For natural light place your seedlings near a sunny, southern window. Rotate your seedlings often so they don't bend over as they search for the sun. For fluorescent the key is to use a cool white bulb and to hang the fixture directly over the seeds.
  • Warmth! Most seeds like a warm environment. Seeds will germinate and grow best in a 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius). After they've become little seedlings though they tend to enjoy temps between 60-70f (15-21c).
  • Mositure & Humidity! Keep the germinating medium moist but never soggy. To keep moisture levels high slide your seed flats into clear plastic bags. Or cover your shelving system with clear plastic. Remove the cover as soon as seeds sprout. Check medium everyday for drying out. (TIP: Dryer medium will be lighter in color.)
  • Water! As your seedlings grow they have to establish they're "feet" in the soil. Just like babies they can fall over easily. So as your tempted to grab your watering can...STOP! When you add water to the top of your planting medium your seeds/seedlings have no way of anchoring themselves into the soil and so they will "float" on the water and fall over! :( So ALWAYS water from the bottom until seedlings are quite large.
  • Fertilize! I've made the mistake before of fertilizing too early so when is the best time to add those extra vitamins? After the first True leaves appear. The first leaves are food storage's those second leaves that really spell success! This is a good time to begin fertilizing with liquid soluable plant food as you bottom water your seedlings. When seedlings are very small use 1/4 of the amount of plant food directed on package. Increase to 1/2 the normal stregnth as seedlings begin to mature.

With simple steps like these I hope even seed challenged people (like myself) will find it easier to get healthy plants from those amazing little seeds.


Gina said...

my honey got me a greenhouse just like this one! we still have tons of snow on the ground so mine sits, unassembled, in the middle of the living room floor. my seeds are in the basement under lights waiting to be moved to their next house when it gets warm enough.

Dave said...

I was given one of these for Christmas. I put it in the garage next to a window and strapped a light inside the top of it. It works great for overwintering cuttings and starting seeds!

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Congrats on your gift and good post about starting seeds.~~Dee

GardenJoy4Me said...

Ok .. now is this a picture of what the gree house looks like or what you have right now ? I' confused .. it is a saturday morning that helps of course .. but I have snow up to my eyeballs .. please don't tell me this is your picture ????? PLEASE !
PS .. I WANT ONE TOO !!!!!

robbinscabin said...

My camera was acting all funky today (batteries need to be charged) so I grabbed on picture from online. I usually link my borrowed pics but I forgot with this one. Lowes & Wal-Mart carry these right now. And I'm so excited to try it especially after all of the nice comments here.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I'm actually glad this isn't your picture, I was looking at the ivy and thinking how often you would have to walk over it to water and mist your seedlings. It isn't a very practical location, but the picture sure is beautiful.

I laughed at what your three year old said, out of the mouths of babes. You'll have to prove her wrong this year.

For hard to grow plants, or ones that don't like to be transplanted, I do use the peat pellets. I've had great success with them and they really don't use that much peat. I use a warm light and a cool light in my fixtures and they are also in front of windows.

I'm so excited for you, I can't wait to see what you grow.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Robin above..I was about to tell you that your beautful new greenhouse needed a new home!! little one was going to be correct again and mommies seeds were not going to grow. I think every gardener should have a nice greenhouse--so good for you.

Hey, I just saw you were browsing my pics today. I could not believe how many camelias were in bloom. It was just beautiful. Must be a little mini climate behind those buildings at Old Salem. Glad you stopped by to see me.

Betty819 said...

Okay, are you going to share with us where your hubby purchased this beauty? Where's the grow lights or shop lights? Where did he find the exact size plastic cover to fit..did it all come as a kit? Come on' spill the beans..we're waiting inpatiently.