Starting from seeds

If you haven’t checked it out, has selection of Care Sheets under the “Information” tab that cover a variety of topics from gardening problems to perennials to trees and shrubs. They are easy to understand and packed with helpful information.

Since many people are starting their annual plantings from seed, I thought I’d look at the Care Sheet on Seed Starting.  Most seed packets tell you to plant your seeds 4 – 6 weeks out from the date of the last frost so they will be ready to transplant at the correct time. The sheet suggests using Memorial Day as the “last frost date.”

So what would I need to start my flower or vegetable plants from seed? Well, the care sheet tells me I need peat pots or flats, a humidity dome to protect against temperature fluctuations, a fluorescent light to provide steady even light that will not burn seedlings, a heat mat to keep soil temps between 65‐75 degrees  for increased germination rates, a drip tray to collect water and to water plants from the bottom, seed starting soil or pre-filled soil flats (use sterilized soil with pre‐mixed perlite and vermiculite and not garden or potting soil), and fertilizer because seed starting soil has no nutrients.

In addition to the above “hardware,” I also need seeds. While most seed packets will tell you when to plant them, the Care Sheet lists what weeks specific seeds should be planted to maximize success. For example, by this Sunday (March 13) you should have your celeriac (aka celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery), lemongrass, impatiens and petunias planted. March 20 is the deadline for starting broccoli, cabbage, asters and phlox. Sweet peppers, tomatoes, sage, thyme and Morning Glory should be started between March 21 and 27.

It also has tips on thinning plants, watering, light and getting plants ready for outside. To check out this great resource as well as the other Care Sheets, go to

Happy planting!

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