Light for Your Indoor Seedlings

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You may be wondering what type of lighting you should use to get your indoor seeds to germinate and grow. Placing newly planted seeds in a sunny window may not be enough to get them to germinate and grow.

There are a few options. When I first started gardening, I chose a table top grow light stand. These are inexpensive and adjust in height so you can raise the light up as the plants grow taller. When the seedlings are first planted, the seed tray containing the seeds should be placed on a heat mat with the top of the seed tray about 3 to 4 inches from the bottom of the grow light. When the seeds sprout, they will have the light they need.

You only need to add enough water to the soil for it to be slightly moist but not soggy. I like to use a spray bottle set to the ”mist” setting to water at this stage. Too much water will drown your seeds or cause any new roots to rot.

The seeds do not need any plant food until after they grow their ”true leaves” which are the second set of leaves to appear on the seedlings. I will talk about plant food in a future post. Check back in a few days to see it.

All Soil is Not Created Equal

Sterilized Seed Starting Potting Mix

My last blog post shared information about how to start your garden. It encouraged you to assess your available growing space, decide how much you want to harvest, decide what type of garden you want, to check your growing zone and then make seed purchase decisions.

Now that you have your seeds, it is time to focus on providing the best possible soil for your seeds to grow in. If you are starting seeds indoors before your last frost date, be sure to purchase seed starting potting mix. Several companies make this type of mix and it is usually available at plant nurseries or stores with a garden center department. The soil is very light and airy so that the seeds can easily break through to get light once they have germinated. I do not recommend that you bring soil from outside. It is too thick, heavy and likely has pests in it you would be bringing into your house.

Soil, even seed starting potting mix, likely has fungus gnat eggs in it. You will not be able to see the eggs. However, a few weeks after you plant your seeds you could see these tiny flying bugs in the soil and flying around the seedlings. Fungus gnats are harmful to your seedlings. Sometimes people find they have a fungus gnat infestation that is difficult to get rid of.

To help minimize the possibility of a fungus gnat infestation, you can sterilize the soil before you use it. One way to do that is to put the soil you are going to use in a large bowl and slowly pour boiling water in it. No need to oversaturate the soil. Pour enough boiling water in to make sure all the dirt gets moist and hot then stir it up well. Let it sit a while and go back and stir it a bit more. Once the soil is cool let it get almost dry before you put it in your seed starting cells.

Taking the time to prevent fungus gnats is much better than trying to treat an infestation later.

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How to Start Your Garden

It is now February. The weather is still cold in many areas and storms are a real concern. However, the first day of Spring is March 20, 2022 – just a month away!

If you have decided to have a garden this year, it is time to make some decisions.

AVAILABLE SPACE:

How much space do you have for growing plants/vegetables? Do you have a large lot, a back yard, a patio or a small area indoors to work with?

HARVEST AMOUNT:

How much do you want to grow? Are you growing just for your household, extended family and friends or do you have plans to sell what you grow at a farmers market?

TYPE OF GARDEN:

What do you want to grow? Do want to grow flowers, vegetables, fruit or a combination of each?

Once you have answered the above questions, the next important question is: what will grow easily in your area?

To answer this question, you need to know what growing zone you live in. The USDA has divided areas into growing zones. The growing zones take into consideration the history of high and low temperatures for an area and other factors. The zone designation is a good guide to let you know what is likely to grow where you live. I have attached a link to the USDA growing zone map. Click the link below, type your zip code in their search bar and their map will show you what zone you are in. Here in Michigan I am in zone 6a.

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/pages/view-maps

Once you find your growing zone, think about what you want to grow. Then look for seeds for those items. You can buy seeds from your local plant nursery, Home Depot, seed companies online, etc. Most seed packets have growing instructions on the back and it should tell you what grow zones are best for that seed. If you buy online, the seed description should say what zones that item will grow in. If it does not, feel free to contact the seed company and ask before you buy the seeds.

The above information should help you get started. I will share more in my next post. Follow me so you will not miss my next post.

Gardening in Michigan in February

My perennial vegetable garden in February.,

This is a photo of my raised garden beds during the Winter in February, 2022. As you can see, everything is dormant and covered with snow now. There is about 5 inches of snow on the ground and the high temperature for today is forecast to be about 28 degrees farenheit. Burrrrrrr!

These are new beds I set up last Fall. In the first round bed, I planted rhubarb crowns. For those of you who are new to gardening, a crown is a plant root that is grown to the point that it should thrive when transplanted in its new location.

The two oblong beds have asparagus crowns planted in them. I planted three varieties of asparagus: (1) Mary Washington, (2) Jersey Knight and (3) Purple Passion.

The round bed on the end is not filled yet. In the Spring, I will plant artichoke in it.

The goal with these raised beds is to plant perennial vegetables in each one. For my new gardeners, perennial vegetables are those that you do not have to plant every year. They return yearly on their own. There are only a few vegetables that are perennials. Most vegetables must be planted every year.

Are you new to gardening or are you experienced? If you are new or have not started yet, visit this site and my blog often. Hopefully it will be a source of inspiration for you to start and keep going. If you have a garden, let me know how yours is doing and what you are growing. You could be a source of inspiration for me.

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