January is the time when gardeners’ thoughts turn to spring and the arrival of seed catalogs in the mail bring the excitement of garden plans. The advantages to growing seeds include the numbers of varieties available, the ability to control the conditions under which they are grown, saving money, and the satisfaction of watching the fruits of your labor as the young plants grow.
We recommend that you choose high quality seeds from companies that provide a wealth of information about your seeds on the packet. Important things to consider in choosing your seeds are time needed to produce your desired product. This will help you determine what time of year you want to sow the seed (starting indoors or outdoors) and also determine if it is the type of plant that will transplant well later. Some seedlings don’t transplant well and will likely do better with a direct sow outside. In order to determine when you plant, look at the number of days needed for production and then do the math based on your average last frost date (May 10) and average first frost date (Oct. 6).
For those plants that require you start the seeds indoors consider the following:
Containers: Make sure they are clean and sanitized and have holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. Keep in mind that a good biodegradable pot can be transplanted directly into the garden later. Don’t forget to label planted seeds so you can keep track of what you have.
Media: Start with a high quality seed-starting mix. This will hold moisture but is light enough to let air into the roots. Never use garden soil from outside as it will likely introduce bacteria and disease to your young plant.
Temperature: Find out what temperature is best for growth both for air & soil temperatures. A heated mat will be a good investment under your container for many types of plants as seeds often require higher temperatures to germinate.
Light: This is critical to strong, vigorous plants. Putting them near windows typically means leggy, spindly seedlings. A cost-effective way to provide light is to put a warm tube and cool tube in a fluorescent fixture that you can raise and lower. Always keep the light within 2-3 inches of the top of the seedlings.
Use these winter days as a time to plan your spring garden delights. Visit your local independent garden centers for great choices and information!
This article is sponsored by McNamara at Sand Point, which has 2 acres of production greenhouses, retail florist and gift shop, as well as retail garden center and wholesale plant business. Contact McNamara by calling 260-747-4131 or visit 4322 DeForest Ave, Ft. Wayne, IN 46809.