Time to Start Transplant Seeds

Spring is here, according to migrating birds, budding and flowering trees. 

If you’re thinking about starting seeds for the flower or vegetable garden, the garden catalogs, back of seed packets, and sites you “Google” have information. 

Seeds from catalogs offer a wider variety of choices than garden centers. Maybe you’re looking for a bloom color in your flowerbed.

You might want to experience growing a small garden for fresh produce in summer.

Perhaps it’s the challenge of growing something new, like an annual vine.

This year at Plant Exchange, we planted seeds for transplants on March 7th.  Grouping seed packets by how long it takes for them to be ready for the garden is a first step. I chose plant seeds with medium or short germination this year. 

The materials needed are simple. For seed growing containers, recycled small plastic yogurt cups (or other) with holes in the bottom and a shallow pan to put them in works fine. Seed starting potting mix is chopped finer than a standard potting mix, but either works for soil. A shop light with fluorescent bulbs that you can adjust the height works well. If you start with the lights about a foot above the containers, you raise the lights as the plants grow. Bottom watering, that is, adding warm water to the shallow pan, draws the water into the seed starting soil in the plastic cup. I check the potting mix and tray every few days to make sure the seedlings don’t dry out but are not over-watered.

Labeling containers is essential because many seedlings look alike. If you use plant markers, then you can also use them as plant identification markers in the garden.

Some seeds grow best by direct seeding into the garden bed or container outside, later after the last frost, or according to packet directions. If some seeds can either be started indoors or direct seeded, the latter is less work. They do bloom later. These are some seed packets that will be direct-seed planted and grow well in this region. The two dark Park seed packets are of marigolds and cosmos.

Light height is adjustable in this plant stand. It’s set on a timer for 12 hour days and may be adjusted to 14 hour days as the plants grow.

Already the first seed leaves of Salvia, Rudbeckia, and Echinacea appear!

Do check the Plant Exchange “Vegetables” topic for posts about aspects of growing produce.

A YouTube video that can be helpful is found at the siouxlandgardenshow.org website. Look under “Speakers” for archived 2020 videos found at the bottom of the page and see “Seed Starting Indoors” by Marion Cain of Nebraska, as well as other topics for gardeners.

Hope to see you again next week! Thanks for the “Likes” and for loyal “Followers” who show up!

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