Sowing seeds or plants? Numerous vegetables can be directly seeded where they are to grow, including lettuce, beans, carrots, beets, chard, spinach, peas and squash. But it’s better to start with small plants rather than seeds for crops that take longer to mature.
Purchase transplants for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and melons (or start your own indoors 6 to 8 weeks before planting them outside). Besides, if you wish to boost up the season, consider a raised bed garden as the soil will warm up more quickly.
Then if you decide to grow from seed (versus young plants), be sure to buy high-quality seeds. But for some reason if seeds don’t germinate, that’s time and money wasted. If you spent extra money in spring for that year’s seeds, will pay off at harvest time with higher yields.
- Buy from a reliable source
- Choose quality seed. It will be true to cultivar/variety name, and will not contain contaminants, such as soil particles, weed seed, insect casings or plant pulp.
- Select suitable varieties for your area that will reach maturity before frost, survive heat, and tolerate your growing conditions.
- Furthermore, purchase only enough seed for the current season (viability decreases with stored seed).
In fact germination is affected by four environmental factors, including water, oxygen, light, and temperature. Hence, manage them correctly and your seeds are sure to sprout. After all, read your seed packets to know the requirements of each crop.
It’s important to know how much water to give your seedlings; they will remain dormant if they are too dry and can rot if too wet. So adequate and consistent moisture is ideal. A gentle daily misting with a spray bottle should do the trick. Covering seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite or peat moss also helps.
To be sure, for seeds to get enough oxygen, your soilless growing medium needs to drain well. Heavy, wet media cause anaerobic conditions, which inhibit germination.
Although plants’ light requirements vary from crop to crop; where you locate your seeds will determine how much light they receive per day.
Temperature affects the number of seeds that germinate and how quickly they germinate. Be aware some seeds have a very specific temperature range for germination, while others will germinate over a broad range of temperatures. A 65° to 75°F range is typical for most seeds.
Potting Soil for Starting Seeds
When it comes time to start seeds, plan to use a sterile, soilless potting medium. Sterile mixes have been treated to be free of weed seeds and disease organisms. Do not use garden soil—it’s much too heavy and holds too much water for germination. A fine, uniform texture is what’s needed. If you are up for a little experiment, you can even make your own.
For a basic mix, use:
1 bucket = (2½ gallons)
• 1 Bucket of Peat moss and vermiculite or perlite
• A half bucket (1¼ gallons) screened compost or composted cow manure
• 2 cups of fine sand and cups pelleted time-release fertilizer •
• A half cup of lime (to counter the acid of peat and keep the pH level near neutral)
Mix thoroughly. Makes enough to fill two 14-inch tubs. Double or triple recipe for bigger containers.
TRANSPLANTING IN THE GROUND
- During your seedlings’ last week indoors, withhold fertilizer and water less often—this helps toughen them up.
- Seven to Ten days before transplanting, set the seedlings outdoors in dappled shade, protected from wind for a few hours each day, little by little increase their exposure to full sun and windy conditions—this hardens them off in preparation for transplanting into the ground.
- Keep soil under moisture at all times during the hardening-off period. Because of dry air and spring breezes can result in rapid transpiration.
- If possible, transplant on overcast days or in the early morning.
- Make transplants into loose, well-aerated soil that will catch and retain moisture, drain well, and allow easy penetration by young roots.
- After transplanting, soak the soil around new seedlings immediately.
- Spread mulch to reduce soil-moisture loss.
- To promotes strong root development, ensure that phosphorus is available in the root zone of new transplants, mix 2 tablespoons of a 15-30-15 starter fertilizer into a gallon of water (1 tablespoon for vining crops, such as cucumbers and melon), and give each seedling a cup of the solution after transplanting.
Let’s find out “How To Water Plants Correctly” in the next article.
Don’t miss the previous article.