01 January 2007

Successful Seed Starting

I ordered flower, vegetable and herb seeds today and it made me think about how many seeds have been planted too early. Instead of growing strong stems with healthy true leaves, they get tall with thin, lanky stems.

Resolve this year to learn more about each type of seed and give them what they need to be successful: Sterile pots, sterile starting soil, light source, warmth, run a fan on them to make strong stems and pick them out to reduce the number of seedlings per pot. It is New Year's Day after all and resolutions are in order.

Organic Gardening Magazine provided guidelines for a few vegetables that will serve as examples.

Broccoli seeds - 4 to 6 weeks from sowing to transplanting. Plant outside 2 weeks before last frost. Translation: Assuming our last frost to be April 15, seeds should be planted inside between Feb 15 and March 1 and moved outside April 1.

Melon seeds - 3 to 4 weeks from sowing to transplanting. Plant outside 2 weeks after last frost. Translation: Last frost is April 15, plant outside May 1st. Sow indoors March 7.

Tomatoes - Plant outside May 1st. Sow seeds inside mid-March.

Succession planting works best for most families. For example, two heads of lettuce a week is enough, so plant half a dozen seeds a week for several weeks.

On the web at http://www.backyardgardener.com/tm.html there is a timetable of flower germination data. It includes planting depth, soil temperature, days to germination, type of planting medium and comments.

A chart for vegetables - soil temperature, days to germinate, weeks between transplant and sow, setting out and comments is at http://vric.ucdavis.edu/veginfo/commodity/garden/veggarden/SeedGerminationTemp.pdf

Happy planting.


Anonymous said...

I'm not even thinking about seeds yet, until I see my bulbs perform. Just to "rush" the Spring season a bit, I tried to force some hyacinths and tulips indoors. Help!! I followed the instructions -- clear glass container, clean nursery rocks, bulbs, and water. They have started to shoot up, but no blooms yet ( I started them before Thanksgiving.) I have added water, as needed. And even ethanol ( as suggested by a friend, for a boost) Notah !! I see beginnings of flowers, but the water seems to be souring ( very easy to tell that!) Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I am having trouble with my bulb "forcing" indoors. Before Thanksgiving, I started hyacinth & tulip in clear glass containers, with clean nursery pebbles, and water. They are just beginning to shoot up -- but the water seems to sour. I have added fresh water as needed. I am afraid I have failed. What should I do?

Molly Day said...

Ethanol for bulb starting? That's a new one on me. I have heard of adding rubbing alcohol or vodka in a 10% solution to bulb water to keep the flower stems from flopping but I wonder why ethanol.

Placing narcissus bulbs on stones and adding water just until the bottom of the bulb touches water works. But that's narcissus.

Usually tulips and hyacinths prefer soil. Tulips are usually planted 6 to 8 inches deep in soil.

It's not too late to try that. Get a planting pot that is at least 8-inches deep (like a one gallon nursery container), fill the bottom one-half with clean planting or potting soil and put the tulips in.

You can judge by the length of the growth how deep to plant them. Top them with soil up to within one inch of the pot's top rim.

Do the same for the hyacinths.

The sour smell is probably because the bulbs are too wet.

Water the bulbs planted in the soil, let any excess water drain out, put them in a sunny windowsill, and don't water again until the top inch of soil is dry.

Let me know how they do once they aren't kept wet.