Dakota Gardener: Preparing for Seeds

0

Seeds are first on the list. If you read NDSU Extension horticulturist Tom Kalb’s article last week, you have all the information you need to find good seed catalogs and order your seeds.

My favorite time of year is starting soon, garden seed start time. I am starting to prepare and gather materials to start seeds for my school garden programs. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way to weather the cold, snowy days of winter than to plan the growing season.

If you are giving seed starting a trial this year, there are some supplies you might want to have on hand. If you are a seasoned beginner, here is your reminder to check your reserves.

Seeds are first on the list. If you read NDSU Extension horticulturist Tom Kalb’s article last week, you have all the information you need to find good seed catalogs and order your seeds. I have already received at least six different seed catalogs in the mail, not counting the duplicates I received at home. If you find yourself lacking in the seed catalog department, ask a fellow gardener. I know they will share.

Small radish seeds are put in the pot to germinate.

Small radish seeds are put in the pot to germinate.

Next on the list is a material to start your seeds. The material seeds are grown as needed to allow air circulation and be well drained, while retaining water at the same time. I use the term “material” because many gardeners like to use pure perlite or vermiculite to start seeds. This is a good option because perlite and vermiculite allow air circulation and retain water. However, they provide no nutrition for seedling growth.

Although the weather is cold, now is a great time to order seed catalogs, as some seed varieties are already selling out.

Although the weather is cold, now is a great time to order seed catalogs, as some seed varieties are already selling out.

I prefer to use potting soil or soilless mediums. Most potting mixes do not contain soil. It is a mixture of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite.

Seed starting containers should also be on your list. A general rule is that containers for starter seeds should be about three inches deep and should have holes for water drainage. You can buy seed starter containers or reuse milk cartons or other disposable containers. Make sure containers are clean and have not contained harmful chemicals during their previous life. Don’t forget to add drainage holes. I have a messy stash of take-out containers in my pantry that will be repurposed for seeds starting this spring.

Tags are a necessity when starting seeds. You will be able to tell the difference between vegetables like peppers, tomatoes and broccoli. However, you will not be able to tell the difference between tomato varieties. Labels are especially useful if you have limited garden space or only want a certain number of each variety. Popsicle sticks work well for labels, but avoid ink that bleeds when wet.

Typically, seedlings are transplanted into larger containers or growing trays after they get their first set of true leaves. A supply of growing trays or larger containers is needed to accommodate the number of seedlings you are transplanting. If you want to reuse pots you bought last year, wash them in soapy water and use a 10% bleach solution to clean and sanitize them.

An optional item is a set of grow lights. If you’re serious about starting seeds, you might want to invest in a set. Another useful item is a small fan. This is not to keep the plants cool, but to help the plants strengthen the stem. There’s not much air circulation inside unless you’re in a greenhouse. I usually run the fan on my seedlings for a few hours a day.

  1. Don’t let starting seeds intimidate you. Finish NDSU Extension Horticulturist Esther McGinnis’ number one resolution in her Dakota Gardener column on gardening resolutions for 2022 by growing a new variety from seed. Happy gardening!

This article originally appeared on Devils Lake Journal: Dakota Gardener: Getting Ready for Seeds

Share.

Comments are closed.