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Starting Seeds Indoors Part Two

Sunflower seedlings, just three days after ger...

Sunflower seedlings, just three days after germination (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

You have your seeds, planting medium, containers, lights and heating mat. Now what?

Now it’s time to get dirty!

Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Sow seeds according to packet instructions. For large seeds, make a shallow furrow with a pencil or chopstick. This method is easier than trying to poke and space individual holes. Close the furrow over the seeds by brushing back the sides into the hole or sprinkle on more seed starting mix to cover lightly (see packet back for specific depth of coverage) then water gently to settle mix around seeds. Don’t be alarmed if your seeds seem to float to the top. Seed start mix and most potting soil are very light. It will settle.
  • Try mixing tiny seeds that are hard to handle with a little sand. Sprinkle seeds as evenly as possible. Don’t worry; you can thin out excess seedlings later. Thin them by pinching off the stems at soil level. It is best to leave the root system alone.
  • The first two leaves that sprout are called “seed leaves”, duh, right? These leaves are very durable and can act as little handles to help you transfer the plant at transplanting time. The rest of the leaves that sprout are called “true leaves”.
  • When seedlings have several sets of true leaves, transplant them to a new container to give them more room to develop. This process is called “pricking out”.
  • Lift seedlings carefully, holding them by leaves (not by stem or roots), and transplant about 2 inches apart in the new container. Now they can grow big enough to go out in the garden when conditions are favorable.

Things to remember:

  • Let the plants tell you when they are thirsty. Don’t allow the soil to totally dry out but be careful not to over water. Overwatering causes plants to “dampen off” or rot. Fuzzy wuzzy was a tomato plant is not what you song you want stuck in your head.
  • If you choose to use a heating mat, it may dry the soil out faster than without one.
  • Remove any domes or lids you used to keep in humidity as soon as a good number of seeds sprout.
  • Keep your lights about 4 inches above your plants to help keep them from getting leggy.

Follow these tips and your plants will be off to a healthy start!

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About the author

Cindy's Recipes and Writings

As a professional cook, I love creating exciting new recipes on the job as well as at home. Assisting in teaching low-income families how to buy, store and prepare healthy food through Penn State’s alliance with Pennsylvania’s Supercupboard Program was very rewarding. During my 11 years with the Master Gardener program, I taught horticultural therapy to assisted living patients using healthful, fr
esh grown food as a focal point. . My hands-on programs and instruction helped hundreds of children and adults learn about where their food comes from and how important fresh food is for your body.
Currently I’m a cook at a college in Pennsylvania. We prepare everything we can from scratch, including our potato chips that tout the seasoning of the day!
Of course I write about food; it's in my blood!

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