Starting plants from seed is a good way to get a jump start on the season. You can find new seed varieties in catalogs and garden centers that aren't available as a started plant. And, its a fun activity to do with kids.
Starting plants from seed is a good way to get a jump start on the season. You can find new seed varieties in catalogs and garden centers that aren’t available as a started plant. And, it’s a fun activity to do with kids.
It’s amazing just to see the look on a kid’s face when the seeds first start to sprout. Then they actually grow a head of lettuce, or they grow some tomatoes from it, and they start to realize the whole cycle of where their food actually come from.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to get a set of these compressed peat pellets. Once you put them into water they swell up just like that. This is one that has not had any water on it yet.
Transplants can also be started in a little plastic cell pack. You may have some of these left over from last year’s gardening activities. Just make sure you wash them out well. Remove all the soil, wash them out with soapy water, and even soak them in a Clorox and water solution to sterilize them. Also, to fill them with soil, we want to use not just garden soil. You need to use a special potting soil, or a seed starting mix. It doesn’t have any insects in it, it doesn’t have any fungal spores, or anything that could hurt the seedlings.
Another type of planting container that’s available are peat pots. These are excellent for starting plants like cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins. All of those make a very large seedling, and they don’t like to have their roots disturbed.
The key thing is they need as much light as possible. So a south facing window is good. Just make sure you rotate the plant every couple of days because it will tend to grow towards the light. If you don’t have a good windowsill with unobstructed sunshine coming in, you can set up some grow lights. Just use some regular fluorescent lights, and grow the plants underneath the artificial light.
The right temperature and moisture are important for growing seeds, too. This feature story prepared with Charles Barden, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Forestry. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.