7 Seed-Starting Tips You Must Know as a Gardener
Seed-starting may sound a little overwhelming with all the responsibilities attached to its name. But hey, don’t worry. These tips will surely help you be the gardener you ought to be.
USE THE RIGHT SOIL.
Settling with cheap soil may not be a good decision. If you want your seeds to germinate and grow beautifully, you have to invest in a quality soil. When you select the soil, make sure the mixture can allow air to flow and retain water at the same time. The mixture should decrease the risk of your seedlings to rot from pathogens born in the soil.
ALLOW THEM TO GET ENOUGH LIGHT.
If your location during winter season hampers light from getting into your seeds, you can use supplemental lighting. Remember that your seeds will need sufficient light especially when they’ve already germinated and sprouted. You can use fluorescent lights as a substitute. But if you really want them to receive sunlight, you can keep them on a rolling cart and roll them out every morning. Then roll them back inside your garage every evening to protect them from the cold temperature at night.
SELECT ORGANIC, OPEN-POLLINATES HEIRLOOM SEEDS
Organic Seeds = Sustainable Seeds. Growing your own food is a difficult but if you’re willing to, ensure that the seeds you’ll use are organic ones. They’ve never been touched by toxic herbicides and pesticides. Meanwhile, open-pollinated heirloom seeds are seeds that can be saved for future use. That means you don’t have to pressure yourself with starting your garden right away unlike when you choose hybridized ones.
USE FLAT AND WIDE CONTAINERS.
Overcrowding of seedlings is not easy to manage at all. So what do you do? Place them in shallow but wide containers. This will also prevent them from being too moist around young roots. Plastic pots are perfect for starting seeds since they consistently maintain moisture. If your plant hates root disturbance when it’s transplanted, then place it in another container—a small one like a plug tray or cell pack will do. You can also recycle empty margarine tubs or yogurt containers, just poke holes at their bottoms for drainage. The key is to use a sanitized, pathogen-free container. To make sure it’s clean, soak it for 15 minutes in a 10% bleach solution and let it dry naturally with air.
KEEP THE SEEDS WARM.
This is essential to encourage germination of seeds. If you want to speed this process up, you can use a heat mat. In order to germinate, most seeds need 65° to 75°F. They won’t germinate well if you don’t keep them warm. If you have a heater, you can place the seed containers near the heater but please consider the precautions. You can even purchase a heating pad intended for this purpose. It can be placed right under the container to warm the planting mix and encourage germination. Bear in mind that if you’re using another heat source aside from the sun, you need to check the moisture regularly because the containers have a tendency to dry out rapidly.
FEED THEM PROPERLY.
Your seedlings are like human babies that get hungry easily. Don’t rely on the soil mixture that contains an adequate amount of nutrients. You need to add more for them to grow. This tip isn’t difficult to follow because you can purchase soil nutrients or make your own. There are even DIY instructions for a liquid soil fertilizer. Once the true leaves appear, they’ll require you to start a half-strength liquid fertilizer routine every week. They aren’t really that demanding. They just need food to survive.
COVER THE POTS WITH PLASTIC WRAP.
Doing this will help maintain the moisture level. Adding too much water is not good for the seeds. They are sensitive and require a constant moisture level for their growth. Covering the trays or pots with a plastic wrap will help keep the moisture constant. However, it doesn’t exempt you from checking the pot every day for moisture and germination. If your container needs rehydration, you can put it a basin with two to three inches of warm water and let the water wick from the bottom of the container. You don’t have to do this if only the surface has dried. Just sprinkle water on the surface using a spray bottle. Lastly, once the seeds have germinated, do remove the plastic wrap.