To ensure your success from the beginning, use quality supplies that are designed for the seed-starting process. Not only will you see results from your efforts, but also your enthusiasm and passion for gardening will continue to grow.
As you’re getting ready for the spring, keep these seed-starting must-haves in mind as you start this rewarding, yet sometimes challenging task.
Seed. Begin the process by selecting quality seeds that are fresh or have been stored properly, such as in a cool, dark location with low humidity. If you have questions about seed viability, you can soak them in water. Generally, living seeds will sink, while dead ones will float. Of course, it goes without saying that you should choose seeds that thrive in your region’s general growing conditions.
Seed-starting pots or flats. Plastic pots or containers are preferred over clay because they allow for retaining moisture seedlings need. Flats, larger, rectangular containers that hold many seedlings, can also be used. It’s important to start with clean, dry containers, especially if using empty yogurt containers and margarine tubs. Be sure to add holes in the bottom of recycled pots for drainage. Wide, shallow containers are preferred because they prevent overcrowding and prevent too much moisture build-up around young roots.
Seed starting mix. Give your seeds the support they need with peat moss, compost or a designated seed-starting mix. Plain garden soil is not recommended, but as plants sprout their first leaves, they should be transferred into a nutrient-rich potting mix. Commercial brands (as long as they don’t contain synthetic chemical fertilizer) can be used, or you can make your own organic mix.
Label plants and take good notes. Track your (and your plants’) progress by properly labeling your seedlings and taking notes about their journey. Especially if this is your first time starting seedlings, be sure to take good notes so you can make improvements the next time around. The Center for Historic plants recommends recording when the seeds are sown, the germination date, the success rate and when seedlings are ready for transplant. Not only can you evaluate the timing of your production schedule, you can also track the quality of the seeds used. Be sure to make note of that as well!
Light and supplemental lighting. Seedlings need a lot of light, in terms of intensity and time—as much as 16 hours a day. While you can invest in a grow-light system, you can also use the long fluorescent lights available at hardware stores. Keep the tubes clean so there is nothing that impedes the intensity of the light. It is recommended to start with fresh new bulbs when starting seedlings as the light does become dimmer over time.
Heating mat. Most seedlings thrive in warm soil. In that case, setting your containers on top of heating mats allows the seedlings to get the heat they want and need. Using a heating mat also gives you the control of the temperature, such as if a control unit is attached or it is equipped with an automatic thermostat. Keep an eye on the seedlings, though, because as soon as they sprout their first leaves you will want to remove the use of the heating mats, as then they plants will grow better in a slightly cooler environment.
What seed-starting supplies do you need? Call one of our friendly representatives a 800-531-4769 or visit us at www.GothicArchGreenhouses.com, and we can help you get ready now for spring!