All Posts   Posted:   February 2, 2016 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees Education

Let me tell you something… I am a seed catalog hoarder; especially during winter months I can’t resist the beautiful books full of pages upon pages of the promise of spring! Right now I have a pile of them on my nightstand, one or two on the dining room table and several more scattered throughout the house (maybe another one came in the mail today)! I have already received one of my seed order shipments from a specialty tomato source and plan to see what new and exciting plant varieties arrive on the seed racks at our local garden centers. On a recent rainy day I took out my saved seed packs from last season to begin planning my spring garden and seed-starting schedule.

Starting plants from seed can be an economical way to grow a garden and is a very rewarding experience. There are several advantages to growing plants from seed including access to a wide selection of varieties, stronger plants that have not had the shock of transplanting, and the ability to use seed that was collected & stored from previous years, passed from neighbor to neighbor or shipped from other regions. 

In early spring many gardeners have small seed trays lining their windowsills, kitchen counters &/or tabletops. Indoor seed starting requires bright light, adequate moisture, high humidity and a watchful eye. Placing a clear plastic dome cover over your seedlings will help hold in moisture and humidity. Bottom heat from a seedling heat mat can speed up the germination process (when the seeds cracks open and begin to grow) but is not necessary for success. Be sure to remove the plastic dome and heat mat as soon as seeds have germinated. If indoor gardening is not for you it is easy to grow from seed outdoors by sowing directly into the garden soil but it is important to consider the soil temperature and how it may effect germination. A soil thermometer is a simple tool used to take the earth’s temperature; it can greatly improve your seeding and transplanting results by planting at the safe and proper soil temperature. As soon as soil temps are in the 40’s in my garden I can sow pea seeds and plant potatoes; I will continue to monitor the soil warmth and plant my crops as things heat up. There are many crops that can be planted when the soil has reached at least 40 degrees: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish & spinach to name a few.

Timing

Average last frost date for Portland metro area is April 15th;

Light   

Bright light is essential; a sunny east or south-facing window (supplement with fluorescent full-spectrum or LED light bulb); check out our new Jump Start grow light system for seedlings

Soil media       

 It's best to use sterile seed starting mix, jiffy pots of dehydrated coir or coir bricks (If using seed-starting mix I like to pre-moisten soil before planting); ideal to use biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground such as peat pots, newspaper pots or even egg shells

Moisture         

Keep seed bed thoroughly wet, water gently and consistently; solid bottom trays and humidity domes help to maintain moisture (be sure to remove humidity dome after seeds have germinated); a spray bottle is handy too

Germination  

Check seed packet details; can take several days or several weeks depending on type of seed planted; adding a heat mat under your seedling trays can greatly speed up germination but heat should be removed after seeds have sprouted

Seed selection

  • Most seed is good for at least 3 years (larger seeds such as corn may not last as long); if using old seed it is wise to do a germination test before mass planting
  • Choose items with multiple harvest potential: leafy greens, lettuce, salad mixes, leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley
  • Remember to mark your seeds with labels, plant 2-3 seeds per pot
  • Recognize 1st set of leaves vs. ‘true’ set of leaves: the first ‘leaves’ to appear are called the cotyledon and are the embryonic first leaves of a seedling, after the cotyledon the seedling produces its first set of ‘true’ leaves that more closely resemble the adult plant.
  • Planting depth depends on seed type (check packet info); good rule of thumb is 3 times as deep as the seed is wide; better to plant too shallowly than to be too deep.
  • Some seeds (especially large, hard-shelled ones) benefit from soaking in water overnight or for up to 24 hours before planting (i.e. garden peas)

Fertilizing 

G&B Organics All Purpose liquid fertilizer (3-2-3) diluted to ½ or ¼ strength is best to feed seedlings weekly or every 10 days once seeds have germinated and grown their first set of ‘true’ leaves

Transplanting & Hardening Off

  • Best to wait for 2nd or 3rd set of ‘true’ leaves before transplanting
  • Check plant info/seed packet for best time to plant outside (check soil temperature- with a soil thermometer, pay attention to nighttime temperature lows)

Stop in and visit one of our garden centers to see what seeds we have in stock. We carry 3 great seed companies: Territorial Seeds, Rene’s Garden Seeds, & Botanical Interest Seeds as well as a great selection of supplies necessary to get you growing!

Let me tell you something… I am a seed catalog hoarder; especially during winter months I can’t resist the beautiful books full of pages upon pages of the promise of spring! Right now I have a pile of them on my nightstand, one or two on the dining room table and several more scattered throughout the house (maybe another one came in the mail today)! I have already received one of my seed order shipments from a specialty tomato source and plan to see what new and exciting plant varieties arrive on the seed racks at our local garden centers. On a recent rainy day I took out my saved seed packs from last season to begin planning my spring garden and seed-starting schedule.

Starting plants from seed can be an economical way to grow a garden and is a very rewarding experience. There are several advantages to growing plants from seed including access to a wide selection of varieties, stronger plants that have not had the shock of transplanting, and the ability to use seed that was collected & stored from previous years, passed from neighbor to neighbor or shipped from other regions. 

In early spring many gardeners have small seed trays lining their windowsills, kitchen counters &/or tabletops. Indoor seed starting requires bright light, adequate moisture, high humidity and a watchful eye. Placing a clear plastic dome cover over your seedlings will help hold in moisture and humidity. Bottom heat from a seedling heat mat can speed up the germination process (when the seeds cracks open and begin to grow) but is not necessary for success. Be sure to remove the plastic dome and heat mat as soon as seeds have germinated. If indoor gardening is not for you it is easy to grow from seed outdoors by sowing directly into the garden soil but it is important to consider the soil temperature and how it may effect germination. A soil thermometer is a simple tool used to take the earth’s temperature; it can greatly improve your seeding and transplanting results by planting at the safe and proper soil temperature. As soon as soil temps are in the 40’s in my garden I can sow pea seeds and plant potatoes; I will continue to monitor the soil warmth and plant my crops as things heat up. There are many crops that can be planted when the soil has reached at least 40 degrees: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, endive, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish & spinach to name a few.

Timing

Average last frost date for Portland metro area is April 15th;

Light   

Bright light is essential; a sunny east or south-facing window (supplement with fluorescent full-spectrum or LED light bulb); check out our new Jump Start grow light system for seedlings

Soil media       

 It's best to use sterile seed starting mix, jiffy pots of dehydrated coir or coir bricks (If using seed-starting mix I like to pre-moisten soil before planting); ideal to use biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground such as peat pots, newspaper pots or even egg shells

Moisture         

Keep seed bed thoroughly wet, water gently and consistently; solid bottom trays and humidity domes help to maintain moisture (be sure to remove humidity dome after seeds have germinated); a spray bottle is handy too

Germination  

Check seed packet details; can take several days or several weeks depending on type of seed planted; adding a heat mat under your seedling trays can greatly speed up germination but heat should be removed after seeds have sprouted

Seed selection

  • Most seed is good for at least 3 years (larger seeds such as corn may not last as long); if using old seed it is wise to do a germination test before mass planting
  • Choose items with multiple harvest potential: leafy greens, lettuce, salad mixes, leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley
  • Remember to mark your seeds with labels, plant 2-3 seeds per pot
  • Recognize 1st set of leaves vs. ‘true’ set of leaves: the first ‘leaves’ to appear are called the cotyledon and are the embryonic first leaves of a seedling, after the cotyledon the seedling produces its first set of ‘true’ leaves that more closely resemble the adult plant.
  • Planting depth depends on seed type (check packet info); good rule of thumb is 3 times as deep as the seed is wide; better to plant too shallowly than to be too deep.
  • Some seeds (especially large, hard-shelled ones) benefit from soaking in water overnight or for up to 24 hours before planting (i.e. garden peas)

Fertilizing 

G&B Organics All Purpose liquid fertilizer (3-2-3) diluted to ½ or ¼ strength is best to feed seedlings weekly or every 10 days once seeds have germinated and grown their first set of ‘true’ leaves

Transplanting & Hardening Off

  • Best to wait for 2nd or 3rd set of ‘true’ leaves before transplanting
  • Check plant info/seed packet for best time to plant outside (check soil temperature- with a soil thermometer, pay attention to nighttime temperature lows)

Stop in and visit one of our garden centers to see what seeds we have in stock. We carry 3 great seed companies: Territorial Seeds, Rene’s Garden Seeds, & Botanical Interest Seeds as well as a great selection of supplies necessary to get you growing!