Starting Spring Seedlings

Herbs, vegetables, annuals, perennials and wildflowers can all be grown from seed.

By using a combination of the right seed, good quality soil and a little tender loving care, you will have abundant blossoms ready to transplant, into your garden, after the first full moon in June.

A great family project, starting plants from seeds encourages a sense of wonder in children. Seeds share the great diversity of nature.

From the period of germination to gestation and garden, every seedling is unique. Some seed varieties require special treatment before sewing such as chilling, nicking the seed coat with a sharp knife, or soaking overnight.

Carefully read the instructions provided on the seed packages for particular plant preferences.

For children, this is a great way to experiment with nature and to learn the tricks of trade for early season gardening.

Great flowers start with the right seed. When shopping for seeds, read package labels carefully to ensure our northern climate will provide the required conditions for growth.

Seeds can also be saved from previous year’s successful flowering annuals and biennials such as bachelor’s buttons (which self sow), Canterbury bells, French or African marigolds, poppies and sunflowers.

Great plants start with good quality seed-starting mix. The mixture should be sterile, breathable and hold moisture well.

For tiny seeds, use the tip of a pencil to create a small hole. Then dampen the rubber pencil tip, insert into the seeds, then place into the soil. Turn the pencil, and remove. The seeds will remain nestled in the soil.

Remember to label each pot by variety and colour.

All seeds want to grow in warmth, especially bottom heat from a warmed surfaced.

Optimum light is the most important ingredient for successful seedlings. It is common, in our northern climate, to use fluorescent grow lights in 12-hour cycles, placed 15 centimetres above the seedling.

For plants grown on windowsills, supplement with reflectors and rotate the seed trays regularly.

Seedlings need to be kept consistently moist, not overly wet, nor too dry. Before seedlings mature, water from a mister to avoid dislodging the seeds from the soil. As seedlings mature, water the plants from the bottom of the seed trays to encourage roots to grow toward the moisture.

Once the second set of leaves appears, begin with a light fertilizer application. An initial blend of fishmeal and kelp, applied as a foliar spray or bottom feeding works really well for new seedlings.

Plants love to be touched. The contact with your hand running over the seedlings will actually strengthen the stems and prepare them for being outdoors.

A great way to expand your garden’s pallet is to start your own plants from seed. The therapy of starting new seedlings and caring for fresh new plants is an enjoyable project the whole family will enjoy.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. She is the owner and founder of Northern Elegance. Contact her at [email protected]

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