Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, Stay Home!
ow that we are in this (stay at home order) and social distancing because of the COVID-19, let me stress once again the number one, most important precaution against a virus is simply to wash your hands as often as possible! Do not touch your face, this is exactly how the virus will spread into your system, through your eyes, nose or mouth.
I’m sure a lot of you like me are out working on the lawn and gardens, but for those that have been just thinking about getting into gardening and looking for something to do; this could be the time. Here is an idea not only will it give you something to do for yourself, but if you have children this could be a project for all. Studies have shown when children get involve they are more likely to eat the healthy foods they help grow, harvest and prepare. Another thing with Social Distancing and getting out in public; you can order on-line seeds, plants and How to Books; if you don’t know much about gardening; and don’t think you have the room. You can build or purchase a raised garden or you can plant in pots; of course my column can help, this week (how to start seeds indoors), but sense it’s not always possible to get all the information timely in a weekly; there are a lot books that can help. And of course; you can purchase my book; just google (George Edward Weigel book The Blue Barn. com) easy to read method on gardening, setting up a plan and strategy for gardening, How to prepare soil, flower, vegetable seeding through harvest. Homemade pesticide and fungicidal recipes, etc.
How to start flowers and vegetable seeds indoors
Hopefully you have your garden soil preparation complete for the new season.
If not you still have some time; don’t overlook the soil: Once you are ready to transplant outside in your garden; this is critical good soil preparation is to a garden’s success. That is why loam soil is ideal for most plants, because it has a good balance between clay and sand. Loam has better drainage than clay, but retains water and nutrients better than sandy soil. To get a good loam, amend the soil with compost, well-aged manure, and other organic matter regularly. It makes no difference how great the seeds are that you purchase; if you have poor soil preparation. It only makes sense if the soil is poor you will have poor germination and growth. Some vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, require a long growing season so most gardeners start seeds indoors. Starting your own seeds is not only less expensive it’s also a fun rewarding and a great way to get a jump start on the gardening season. Also here are some tips a great way to start those annual flowers. To help you be successful.
Before you start seeds: Be seed savvy. If you haven’t yet; obtain seed catalogs from several companies and compare their offering and prices. Some of the regional companies may carry varieties better suited to this area. Prepare for some losses. Though it’s good not to plant too much for your garden space, it’s also good to assume that some of your seeds won’t germinate, or that they will inexplicably die off later. Plant a few extra, just in case. Don’t start your seeds too early, especially tomatoes. Most annual flowers and vegetables should be sown indoors about 6 to 7 weeks before the last frost in our area. You may have to soak, scratch, or chill seeds before planting, as directed on packet.
Use clean containers: Most seed catalogs offer seedling flats, peat pots, and other growing containers, but egg carton compartments make good containers, too. Be sure to poke holes in the sides near the bottom of the containers you use in order to allow excess water to drain.
Label your containers now: There’s nothing more frustrating than forgetting what you planted. So make a list of what you’d like to grow. A good rule-of-thumb is to imagine your garden one-quarter the size that it really is. This allows for good spacing practices!
Purchase seed-starting mix: These mixes don’t contain any actual soil, but they provide ideal conditions for sprouting seeds. Most importantly, they provide a good balance of drainage and water-holding capacity. And because they’re sterile, they minimize problems with disease on vulnerable seedlings. Don’t use garden soil to start seeds indoors; it generally doesn’t drain well and may contain plant disease spores.
Make sure your containers have drainage holes: You can use recycled pots – yogurt containers, for example, but be sure to poke holes in the bottom. Plastic six-packs and flats are good choices and can be reused year after year. Biodegradable pots are fine, too. Plant seeds at the proper depth: Check the seed packet for planting depth. You don’t need to measure, but if it says “1/4” don’t plant the seed an inch deep. The rule of thumb is to plant the seed two to three times as deep as it is wide. Tiny seeds should be barely covered by soil mix, while large seeds like beans should be sown about an inch deep. Sow seeds too deeply and they won’t have enough stored energy to make it to the surface. Plant extra seeds because it’s likely not all of them will germinate; you’ll thin out the extra ones later.
Keep seed-starting mix moist: Seedling roots need both air and water. Strive to keep the mix moist but not saturated with water – think of it as a damp sponge that contains both water and air.
After sowing, set the containers in a warm location: On top of the refrigerator or near a radiator are usually good spots. Check pots every day.
As soon as seedlings emerge, place pots in a bright location: A sunny window will do but supplemental fluorescent lights will give you the best results. Suspend the lights just an inch or two over the tops of the plants.
Cool room temperature is best: You’ll get sturdier, stockier seedlings at temperatures in the high 60s. At higher temperatures seedlings may get leggy.
Begin fertilizing weekly: Use a half-strength fertilizer once the seedling has one or two sets of leaves. Organic fertilizers are a good choice since they provide a range of nutrients, including micronutrients. Once seedlings have two sets of leaves, it’s time to thin: You want one seedling per pot, so choose the healthiest, strongest-looking seedling and snip off other seedlings at the soil line and discard them.
You can purchase my books (The Blue Barn) and/or (An-Apple-A-Day) google (www. iUniverse publishing. com) Books, Author: george edward weigel
FOOTNOTE: George Weigel, a Platte County resident, is the founder of Cedar Creek Research, and a freelance writer and a published author specializing in nutrition and organic garden strategies. He is a member of the National Home Gardening Club; member and supporter of Arbor Day Foundation, National Wildlife Federation.