Today I am actually inspired about thinking about being outside-because it is sunny! What a great day to start thinking about gardening in February. February is actually a great month to be active with will what soon be your thriving outdoor garden-scape….
Getting Started to Start Seeds!
Water your medium well before planting. Make sure you follow depth instructions on your seed packets. Use a pencil point to make the holes. After planting, cover with humidity dome immediately.
The most ideal conditions for growing seeds is by using a fluorescent grow lamp.Â Use a cool white 40-watt bulb, or specially designed grow lights. Seedlings should get 12â€“14 hours of light a day. Bulbs should hang no more than 3 inches from the top of the seedlings. Do not put under lights or sunlight until cotyledons (baby leaves)Â have been out of soil for at least 1 day. This may burn the tender tissues of your new seedling.
If you do not have room for a grow lamp, then the next best place is aÂ window that gets bright warm light. Use a humidity dome to protect the plants a night from drafts and of-course keep the humidity in! If it is a really bright warm day simply take one corner off to help ventilation for a few hours, or move the plants out of the heat. Plants will get long and spindly if they have too much heat in relation to light.
Never let your seeds dry out, and never drown them in too much water. Soil should be moist to the touch. Water in the morning, not the evening. If your water contains chlorine, let it stand overnight before using.Â You may want to use a water mister to avoid over-watering.
Ideal soil temperature is around 70 degrees, but many plants will germinate at lower temperatures.Â Heat mats are available if you have drafts. Use sterilized soil only for starting seeds, otherwise you could encounter problems such as damping off and other fungus which kill seedlings.
If your seedlings remain in the soil-less growingÂ medium, you’ll need to start feeding them, because it has a total lack of nutrients. Wait until they have developed their second set of true leaves.Â Feed at 1/2 strength twice weekly for 3 to 4 weeks, thenÂ full strength every 10-12Â days.
When do I start what?
Now’s the time to start small-seeded annuals from seed. These include begonias, petunias, lantana, vinka, periwinkle, carnations, double snapdragons, and coleus!
Other plants to start now include celery, leeks and onions. These plants take a long time to produce, so starting them a little early does not hurt! Keep in mind when looking at seed packets that our last frost danger date in Michigan is usually around May 20th.
Here is a general timeline of when to start other vegetable,Â herb and flower seeds:
Feb 21-27th: Brussel Sprouts; Salvia and Datura
Feb 28-March 6:Â Artichokes and Cauliflower (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date)
March 7-13th: Celeriac and lemongrass; Cosmos, Dahlias, Impatiens, Lobelia
March 14-20th: Broccoli, Cabbage and Kohlrabi (transplant out four weeks before the last frost date); Ageratum, Alyssum, Asters, Phlox
March 21-27th: Eggplant, Tomatoes, Chilis, Sweet Peppers, Chives, Sage, Stevia and Thyme; Morning Glory, Celosia, Huchera, andÂ Coreopsis
April 4-April 10:Â Asparagus, Fennel,Â Rhubarb, Shallots, Tomatillos and Basil; Marigolds, Portulaca, Zinnias, Nepeta Catmint, Euphorbia, Forget-Me-Nots, Single snapdragons
April 18-24: Melons, Cucumbers, Squashes
Getting them ready to plant:
You will need to ” toughen up” your seeds before planting. Outside is a harsh environment with drastic climate changes through the day. Two weeks before their plant date, reduce the amount of water you have been giving them. Also stop feeding them.
One week before the big move start setting your flats outside in a shaded area for half of the day. Do not set in the sun-they will cook! Partially remove your dome for air flow. As the week moves on, leave out longer each day and if possible slightly increase sun exposure. This is called hardening off-making your plants more sun and temperature resistant. Gradually, they can stay out over-night.Â Make sure to bring you seedling in if there are freezing temperatures overnight!
Before and after planting water your plants well!