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Look for us in the Cadillac News! Our weekly column - "Conservation Corner" is featured every Tuesday. Here's a recent article:
It’s Never Too Early to Start Gardening Planning Planting Seeds Inside By: Tiffany Jones
It seems like we just put our gardens to bed. But it is never to soon to think about spring planting and starting plants inside. Many will be staring plants inside from seed at the end of March and beginning of April. This process takes thought and planning.
Reason for Staring Seeds Inside There are many reasons to start seeds inside before replanting them in the garden. First reason, is to give your plants a head start. Michigan’s growing season can be seen relatively short. So, by planting inside your giving plants a few weeks jump on the normal growing season. The second reason is cost. By buying seeds is more cost-effective than buying individual plants. Many times, the seed packs are the same price as one plant. The next reason is you have more control over what and how the plants are raised. The last reason is choice. When buying seeds from a catalog there is an abundance of choices. So many choices that it can sometimes be hard to know what to choose. That bring us to our next topic, what to start.
What to Start and When Choosing what to start can be overwhelming. Not only do you need to choose what to plant but what breed to plant. The best way to start is by knowing your planting zone. A quick google search will give you the answer. But most of you reading this will be a zone 5. Next, you need to decide what to plant based on what you like to eat and what grows good in your zone. Then you need to pick the breed which can be the tricky part. Zone can also affect breed choice, so again take that into consideration. Also, when choosing the breeds read the descriptions in the catalog. This will usually give you a good idea of what the produce will look like and how it will taste. You now need to decide what to start inside. Almost all plants can be started inside but not all plants like to be transplanted once started. Plants like corn, potatoes, and carrots are usually better off just planted in the garden. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and herbs do better when started inside. The next part to plan is when to start the seeds inside. Most plants can be started in late March or early April.
How to Start Plants Inside Once you have the seeds the best place to start is to read the back of the seed pack for information and directions. Most of the time the pack will also tell you if the seed needs to be soaked in water before planting. Some seeds like peas and beans benefit greatly from being soaked. Some seeds, before soaking or planting, can benefit from a light scratching. These seeds include melons, beans, and squashes. Seeds can be planted in many different types of containers. It is important that the containers are clean before adding the potting soil. This help to reduce the risk of disease. Potting soil made for seeds is the best to use and will give the seeds the start they need. Before using the potting soil bring it into the house so it can warm up to room temperature. When planting the seeds consult the seed pack to see how deep and how far apart the seeds should be. It is important to label the seeds as you are plant them. This way you know exactly what was planted where. This comes in very handy because some plant can be hard to tell apart. For example, some squash and pumpkin plants can look similar. And if plant right next to each other in the garden they can cross pollinate. If you know which is which they can be planted on opposite ends of the garden. Also, it is important to plan for losses by planting a few extra seed. Most of the time not all the seeds will germinate and occasionally plants will die when transplanted. Once the seeds are planted, plastic wrap can be added to cover the pot. Just make sure to add a few holes in the plastic for ventilation. This will help the seeds to sprout sooner. Then once the seeds have sprouted the plastic cover can be removed. The seeds will sprout best at 65°F to 75°F. Sometime placing the planted seeds on top of the refrigerator or near the oven (when it is off) can help sprouting. Because this gives the container some bottom heat. A heat lamp can also be used to help increase sprouting and growth. The best is to place the seeded containers in front of a window that receives the longest amount of sun in a day. Once the seedlings have their second pair of leaves, they can be move to individual pots until they are planted in the garden. This process takes a lot of planning and work, but the reward at the end of harvest is worth it.
Tomato seedling in front of the kitchen window after being transplanted for the first time.
Tomato plants that had been started inside.
A rainbow of color harvest from mostly plants started inside.
Tomato and pepper seedling in front of the kitchen window.