As the spring days become longer and the sun starts to shine, now is a perfect time to think about planting seeds for summer’s bounty.
If you are a seed-saver and have seeds from previous years, avoid the disappointment and try a simple germination test.
To test the seeds viability, take a piece of paper towel and mist it with warm water. Line a dozen seeds up along the moist paper towel. Fold the paper towel into a tube and place it in a clear zip-loc bag.
Place in a warm location for the length of the germination period listed on your seed package. The results of this simple test will tell you the viability of the seeds you have been saving.
For the novice gardener, annuals and vegetables are the easiest to start indoors. Though many perennials require extra care (some need a dormancy period while others may take two to three years to flower) you can benefit by having these unique varieties in your garden year after year.
When shopping for seeds, read the labels carefully to ensure the northern climate provides the optimum conditions for growth. Whitehorse and the surrounding areas are generally considered to be a Zone 2b planting area.
Any form of clean container works well for starting seedlings as long as it has good drainage. If you are using the common fibre or peat pots, soak the containers first before adding soil. Dry planters will draw moisture away from the plant.
Great plants start in good quality sterile seed-starting mix. Lightly moisten soil prior to planting. Plant seeds according to the individual directions provided on the seed package.
For smaller seeds, use a pencil to create the hole. Dampen the eraser pencil end, insert it into tiny seeds and place in the soil. By turning the pencil, the seeds will fall into the soil. Gently cover the seeds.
An optimum seed-starting environment is created with a clear plastic dome covering the seedlings. When the plants emerge, remove the cover.
Move to a location with optimum light. Until daylight hours increase, try starting your plants under grow-lights or fluorescent bulbs in 12-hour cycles.
Lightly water the freshly sewn seeds. With fragile new seeds, I water for the first couple of weeks using a misting bottle. Avoid overwatering the soil which can cause a fungal disease known as dampening off.
As seedlings mature, water from the bottom of the seed tray to encourage healthy root growth.
When the second set of leaves appear, apply a light fertilizer. An initial blend of fishmeal and kelp, applied as a foliar spray, works really well for new seedlings.
Proper air circulation is essential for healthy plants.
New plants love to be touched. Gently running your hands over the new seedlings actually increases stem strength and prepares plants to be moved outdoors.
This spring, why not try starting seeds indoors? There is great excitement for the whole family in starting seedlings and caring for fresh new plants.