Sunday, March 07, 2010

Seed Starting Tips

Spring is in the air here in Pahrump. The Almond and Peach trees are in full bloom. Spinach, Broccoli, Broccoli Raab, Swiss Chard, Arugula and several lettuces are abundant.

For those of you who are starting your summer veggies from seed - here are some neat tips to get you off to a great start

1) Use only non hybrid,  organic/heirloom seeds. There are a number of reason, most importantly you will be able to  collect huge amounts of seeds from a single plant you will never need to buy seed again. Hybrid seed has all been genetically modified to NOT make fruit. It will grow up into a plant, but a sterile one that cant produce fruit. So again, use good non hybrid seed

2) There is no reason to use 'seed starter potting mix", most contain so much peat moss that its actually harmful to seedlings. Instead use a normal, fine textured potting soil just as long as its organic.

3) Keep records of what, where and when each seed was planted. Record germination date also. Its a very good idea to also plant in succession - repeat plentin every two weeks to prolong/extend the season.

4) Cover trays ( or pots - the organic peat pods are great! ) with plastic wrap to keep the moisture level consistent.

5)  Keep seeds warm for quicker germination. 65-75F is ideal

6) Most seed will not germinate with out sun. 12 hours or more is best. Keep in a sunny south facing window. You should also turn the tray, peat pod or container 1/4 way around clock wise each day to provide even sun exposure and prevent the seedlings growing up leggy.

 7) once 2 "true leaves" emerge, feed with liquid compost.  Liquid worm tea is even better. If you don't have access to these teas, an organic all purpose fertilizer is OK.

8) Introduce gradually to the outdoors. I suggest you move outdoors for a few hour of early morning sun and gradually let them stay out longer and longer.

9) Prepare you area outdoors. Ideally this was done a few weeks prior, its not too late if you haven't yet.
I always dig a whole 3-4 time bigger and wider. I sprinkle 1/2 of a teaspoon of bone meal at bottom, add some rich compost, the other 1/2 teaspoon bone meal
Then the last layer before adding transplant -  mix 1/2 compost with1/2 half native soil, another 1/2 teaspoon of bone meal, gently place plant and fill with 1/2 compost/native soil. Leave a "well" around each plant. This will hold water and let those roots goo deep. The bone meal nurture roots. The deeper and healthier the roots, the healthier and tastier the produce!

10) Enjoy!