Get a Head Start on Spring Planting
By Dianne Venetta
Pour yourself a latte and roll up your sleeves, the seeds have arrived! Which means it’s time to plant.
“Plant? Um, have you looked outside lately?”
You bet. Yes, it might be cold and blustery outside, but it’s warm and toasty inside, so get a head start on the growing season and start your seeds indoors. You have a sunny window, right? Refrigerator?
Awesome. Then you’re ready to go. Since most flowers, vegetables, and herbs are easily transplanted from container to ground, starting seeds indoors is the ideal solution for energetic gardeners. Can you start potatoes and carrots inside? Not so much. But lots of other stuff? Most definitely! And if you start your seeds indoors, you’ll get to see them every day (so you won’t forget to water them). Good thinking, right?
Yes, because seedlings need constant attention to survive and thrive. Like Goldilocks, they need everything “just right,” as in not too dry, not too moist, but “just right.” To begin this process, you’ll need a seed tray. They come in all sizes and shapes, so choose the one that best fits your needs. While you’re at the garden center, pick up some good dirt, preferably a pre-fertilized potting mix specifically designed for these purposes (keeps feeding duties to a minimum). Whichever soil you choose, make sure it’s light and loose—not dense or compacted—with good drainage, because young seedlings have delicate root systems.
Next, read your seed packet label for directions on planting depth. Rule of thumb: the smaller the seed, the shallower the planting depth. Carrots, lettuce, and broccoli are delicate and must be planted close to the surface, while larger squash and beans can be planted 1/2” to and 1” deep.
Once your seeds are covered, they’ll need warmth. The ideal temperature for germination will vary from plant to plant, but generally speaking, warmer (70-80°F) equates to quicker—unless it’s a cold preference plant like peas, spinach, and lettuce (they prefer closer to 65°F). Once again, check your seed packet for specifics.
Once sprouted, they’ll need light. In most cases, placing your trays near a sunny window should do the trick, but keep in mind your seeds will need a good 12-15 hours of light per day. If you live in a place where the sun doesn’t shine, you can place them on top of your refrigerator (generated heat) or use a growth light (pretend sun).
With all this effort and excitement, you may be wondering if you can keep your seedlings inside forever. The answer? Yes! Plants are like pets; they provide constant companionship, serve as excellent conversation partners, and generally add quality and dimension to your life. Beautiful too, considering the vast selection of eye-catching containers available these days.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re planning ahead for your outdoor garden, or jazzing up your home’s interior with a bounty of edible houseplants, get shopping, and get sprouting!
About the Author
Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside, and get digging.
When not crafting her next novel, D.S. Venetta hosts a garden blog, Bloominthyme.com, where she demonstrates just how easy and fun gardening can be! Additionally, Venetta has been featured for her gardening advice on various websites, including GalTime, EarthEats, eHow, IdealHomeGarden, Huffington Post, and the cookbook Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living. Passionate about organic gardening, her dream is to see a garden in every school, library, and community.
You can read Dianne's gardening column on the 2nd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.
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