Monday, March 7, 2011

Seed Starting - Oh Boy Oh Boy

It's that wonderful time of year again when I inventory of all the seed packs I've accumulated the prior year or even longer!  I have this growing "seed hoarder" collection that I just can not toss out.  Each year I take a glob of old seed and broadcast it over my garden in hopes that something will come up.  There have been some successes but typically germination has been poor.

Last year I was fortunate to find some free seeds and end of season discounted seed.  There were several seed exchanges around Charlottesville and I snagged some from Monticello. 

My seed growing began 20 years ago and it is definitely an annual vigil.  A week prior to planting I write down my seed inventory list and contemplate ordering anything that is missing.  I label all my carefully cut yogurt container tags with the name on each seed packet.  I sterilize with a bleach/water mix the seed growing containers which spent their previous lives as bottoms of Tidy Cat containers or Milk Jugs.  I tape up my seed incubator that falls apart a little more with each passing year, but still is effective at germinating seed.

An amazing array of seeds.

The key I have found to effective seed germination is a warm spot with bottom heat.  I used to use a heating pad, which works just fine but the mini seed incubator or greenhouse works great because it holds in the moisture and makes it cozy and warm for the seeds.

Packing down the topcoat of soil.
I do this all in my basement that has a window beside the little greenhouse and a south facing exposure.

Some key elements:  You must get sterile potting soil.  I always cover my seedlings with vermiculite.  I was told long ago that it helps with keeping damping off disease away.  You do not want to over water.  This is death to seedlings.  You want to bottom water only (I cut holes in my seed trays).  You only water when the trays become dry.

It's only been 4 days and they are up and running already!
I hope this motivates you to give it a try.  It's so much fun!  I can't wait to post some photos as the little babies grow... let's hope all goes well... fingers crossed. 

1 comment:

  1. What does that say?!
    Are you growing Thymus glands in your greenhouse??

    Hey, all the best ya! I can' keep things growing, but I'm lousy at germination.

    So, I'll be the one buying "herbage" at the Depot and replanting it into larger indoor containers.

    (Can't trust the neighbors with my basil. Nope, not at all. Though they did once plant some strange looking "oregano" in my garden. Had long pointy little leaves. Hmm. Those wacky neighbors. Now, I keep my garden INDOORS away from them!)


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