Get those seeds to grow
If you’re itching to get a head start on the gardening season, there’s good news: it’s time to start thinking about planting some seeds. Here are 25 tips to help your garden grow.
1. For indoor seed germination, flourescent lights provide a constant light source. For best results 12-14 hours of light per day is needed.
2. To start seeds indoors, fill a flat or grower’s tray with The Grower’s Choice Seed Start Mix. Firm lightly and water thoroughly. Sow seeds at the correct depth, check instructions on seed packet. Cover with a plastic dome and place in a warm location.
3. Most seeds require a minimum temperature of 20 degrees C (68 F) to germinate. This refers to soil temperature, not air temperature. To achieve this, place seed flats on a radiator, refrigerator or use heating cables.
4. Feb. 1 – 28 Sow indoors Ageratum, Begonia, Lobelia, Impatiens, Amaranthus, Verbena and Petunia.
5. March 1 – 30 Sow indoors Celery, Eggplant, Peppers, Onions, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cleome, Larkspur, Marigold, gerbera, Dusty Miller, Coleus, Aster, Rudbeckia, Pansy, Salvia, Carnation.
6. March 20 – April 15 Sow indoors Lettuce, Tomatoes, Alyssum, baby’s Breath, Calendula, Nasturtium, Zinnia and Strawflowers.
7. When thinning or transplanting seedlings, be aware that the weakest seedlings in annual mixtures (such as Snapdragons and Phlox) often include colours and types not included in the stronger seedlings. For a good balance of colour and types, transplant all seedlings, large and small.
8. Hybrid seed varieties are more expensive, but the advantages outweigh the extra cost. Generally there is a noticeable difference in vigor, disease resistance, flower size, earliness and productivity.
9. “Days of Maturity” on seed packages mean time from setting out of healthy good sized seedlings, NOT from the time the seed is sown.
10. Seeds sown directly in peat pots or Jiffy Peat Pellets can be planted pot and all into the garden so as to not disturb the roots.
11. Transplant your seedlings when they have 2 or 3 sets of true leaves. Be careful not to tear the fine roots.
12. Select vegetable varieties of different maturity dates to extend your harvest season or stagger your seed sowing by week or 10 days to extend the season, eg. Lettuce, Corn and Peas.
13. Start Peas, Lettuce, Spinach and Beets outdoors as soon as the soil is workable. Try the mud test! Scoop up a handful of soil and form it into a ball, squeeze and then release. If it forms a loose crumbly ball, then it is ready to work!
14. To avoid “damping off”, do not overcrowd your seed flat. Leave room for air circulation between seedlings. Give plants lots of light and normal room temperatures. Use “No Damp” when watering as a preventative measure.
15. Do not let your seed flats dry out! Mist them with a spray nozzle, hand spray bottle or water gently with a watering can. Fertilize with Iron Plus® 24-8-16 water soluble fertilizer as per directions.
16. Vine crops such as Muskmelon, Squash, Pumpkin and Cucumbers can be grown together in a small space or planted between rows of Corn to save space without affecting their flavour.
17. April 20 – May 20 Morning Glory, Sunflower, Peas, Beans, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Celery, Corn, Cucumber, Kohlrabi, Muskmelon, and Watermelon seed may be planted outdoors as soon as the soil warms up.
18. Before planting seedlings in your garden, acclimatize them to the outdoors by setting them out for a few hours a day. Start two weeks before planting.
19. Because of slow germination of Parsnips and Carrots, many gardeners sow Radish lightly in the same row. The Radish plants act as a row marker and keep the soil loose.
20. Plant at least 3 rows of Corn for proper pollination. Do not plant ornamental corn and sweet corn together with super sweet corn because the cross-pollination will reduce the flavour of the super sweet corn.
21. Plant some flowers around your vegetable garden to repel insects. Good varieties for this purpose are Nasturtiums, French Marigolds, Asters, Chrysanthemums, Cosmos, Coreopsis, Calendula and Petunias.
22. Protect young plants from harsh wind or sun when first set out. Do not plant your seedlings out in cold soil. This will set them back.
23. A barrel or planter is ideal for herb gardening! Try 3 or 4 varieties per container.
24. Keep your left over seed in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry location. Corn seed does not keep so sow it all.
25. June 5 – 30 Many vegetable varieties could be sown for a second time this month for an additional harvest, eg. Peas, Broccoli, Lettuce and Beans.