31 March 2015

How We Do It - Seedlings - growing and hardening off before planting

We cut pieces of mini-blinds and
mark seed type and date planted.
Here is  a pictorial essay about how we grow from seed. Most of the time seeds are planted in the clear plastic shells that contain berries. They let light in plus have drainage and air holes

Some containers are put outside in plant trays inside the fenced area of the little vegetable garden to reduce squirrel damage. Others are grown inside the garden shed which has lights and very low heat.

Seeds put outside are ones that need cold stratification (alternating freeze and thaw) in order to soak off or break through the outer seed coat.

The columbine seedlings were too thick to prick out individually for transplanting into separate containers so we planted tiny clumps of them into 1-inch cells where they will mature enough for us to make selections. The weakest will be tossed and the strongest will be transplanted.

Perennial seeds such as the Penstemon Carillo Rose and Carillo Red were planted one seed per cell of a 72-cell tray so they have been left to grow under lights.
As each of the seedlings gains strong stems and roots, it is transplanted into an individual container with its own tag.

These annual verbena seedlings sprouted in clam shells and were transplanted last week into 1-inch cells to grow roots.

After transplanting, seedlings are kept out of direct light while they adjust to their new, separate homes. When they perk up they are given direct access to the large fan that we run in the shed.

Then, depending on their size, light preference and stem strength, they will either go under lights or outside to be hardened off.

We rarely, if ever plant a seedling, rooted cutting or plant division that has not spent time outside becoming strong. Some start out in the sun if it is cool, but most start out with just a couple of hours of sun. We check them daily for moisture or sun problems.

The photo on the right is a snap of the inside of the shed with a thousand seedlings and plants in varying stages of growth. This is where we keep mature pots that will go outside after April 15th, our last average freeze date.

This is what it looks like at the outside/back of the shed with the sliding door open. There are several hundred seedlings, cuttings and plant root divisions there in various sized containers.

Before the recent hail and tornado scare they all went inside for protection. By the rain barrel in the one gallon containers are brown turkey fig trees grown from cuttings we took last year, swamp hibiscus grown from seed, pinks grown from root division, etc.

Hope this is informative for you dear readers. We never sell seedlings or plants. They are all planted on our 2.5 acres, donated, shared, or given away.



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