2018-04-10 / Columns

Garden Scene

Seed Starting
with Peggy Bolton

With it the spring season, seed racks appear in most garden centers and box stores. Keep in mind that even though seeds are available, it may not mean that it is planting time.

Should you decide to start seeds indoors, there are a few important decisions to be made. First, do not be in a rush to start seedlings. Once plants germinate you must be in a position to care for them until it is planting time outside. This means providing enough light and air circulation so that seedlings don’t dampen off.

Some seeds are best planted directly in the garden. Vegetables such as carrots, beets, and many salad greens will fall into this category. Soil must reach a temperature of fifty degrees for most plants to begin to grow.

Read seed packets or research varieties on the internet to know germination requirements. Seeds that say “surface sow” will do best if soil is first dampened and the seed is pressed onto the top. This way it will not be washed to the container edge when water is applied. For surface sown seed, cover container with plastic and don’t water again until plants begin to germinate. When seedlings appear remove plastic so that they won’t rot. Always water seedlings sparingly, as over-watering is the best way to kill new plants. Too much water also attracts disease.

Seed starting will be most successful if you purchase some variety of soilless seed starting mix. This will be lighter in weight than regular garden or potting soil, and will help prevent dampening off. It is usually easiest to use this product if it is well-moistened before seeding.

Once seedlings germinate they will need a lot of light. If they get very tall fast, it is usually a sign they are growing toward the sun, lacking enough light.

Remember, in most cases our growing season does not begin until around Memorial Day. It is easier to plant smaller seedling, than overgrown, elongated plants.

Send specific questions to: Country Grown Perennials LLC, Peggy Bolton, 4801 Pines Brook Road, Walton, NY 13856. Visit us on the web at

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