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Starting Seedlings Indoors Now for Spring Gardening

| 2/1/2019 10:51:00 AM

Winter is the perfect time to get a head start on spring planting. Of course, you can purchase starts from garden centers, but seasoned gardeners know the really spectacular varieties simply cannot be found anywhere but in seed catalogs and must be grown indoors for some weeks. Starting your own seedlings offers more range and is less expensive, and watching your garden grow from seed is priceless. Here are a few tips to germinate and grow like a pro.


Keep Your Seeds Fresh

While market-gardeners might use entire seed packets in a season, most home-gardeners never come close. Store your leftover seed packets inside an airtight jar in the refrigerator, preferably with a cheesecloth-wrapped bit of powdered milk in the bottom to absorb moisture. Flower seeds usually stay viable for one to three years; vegetables can last two to four. Replace your seeds within those windows to ensure high germination rates.

Start Your Seeds at Just the Right Time

Remember, it’s best to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on plant development in regions with short growing periods, but no need to start too early. In fact, planting too early can backfire. Wait until six weeks before your last frost date to start most seeds. If you aren’t sure, use a planting calendar tool to help.

Use a Seed-Starting Mix

The best seedling mix is one you make yourself: combine equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. If you need a smaller volume, pre-formed seed starters can be quite useful. Don’t re-use potting soil- especially if you’re planting herbs. It may be too coarse for your seedlings’ delicate roots, and it may be contaminated with fungal spores or other unwanted nasties.

Use Clean Containers

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