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How to Grow Your Own Seedlings

April 28th, 2009

how-to-grow-seedlings.jpgNo matter what time of year, or whether they are saved seeds or packaged, it is easy to grow your own seedlings. You’ll need a sunny windowsill or grow light, planting medium, and some kind of container that allows good drainage. And of course, you’ll need the seeds.

When you grow your own seedlings you don’t need to plant the whole package, or all the seeds you have. Just plant a few more than you can use and save the rest or give them away. You could even trade them with a neighbor for a small quantity of other seeds you need. If all else fails, wrap them tightly in plastic and keep them in your refrigerator for another time. As anyone who has ever weeded a garden knows, seeds will keep for years, especially in a dry cool place.

The ideal containers to grow your own seedlings in are small individual peat pots. They are inexpensive and biodegradable. That means you can put them in the soil without disturbing the roots when you plant your seedlings. Fill the pots 3/4 full with the potting medium and place them in a waterproof tray. Fill the tray halfway up the pots with warm water. Carefully drain the tray when the pots have soaked up all the water they can.

Hard seeds such as morning glory, need to be soaked overnight before planting. Read the package to see what your seeds require. When the seeds are ready, place 3 or 4 in each pot and tamp down so they are uniformly touching the potting medium. Then cover with about 1/8 inch more medium and press it around them lightly. Mist with warm water to moisten the surface.

Moisture and humidity are the key ingredients to growing your own seedlings. Over-water and your seeds will rot, under-water and they will dry out. A clear sheet of glass or plastic can be set over the pots to control the humidity, or you can keep a little water in the bottom of the tray. Be sure to buy a tray with bottom ridges, or use a layer of pebbles in the bottom of any pan or dish to keep the peat pots elevated out of the water.

Be patient when you grow your own seedlings. Germination usually takes 3 to 7 days. During that time, keep the soil surface warm and evenly moist, not wet. As the seeds sprout, raise or remove the clear glass or plastic cover. When they are all up you can remove it completely. Repot or plant the seedlings within 4 weeks, after all danger of frost has passed outside, or into larger containers for a sunny area inside. That’s it. You have now managed to grow your own seedlings!

Richard Frisbie is a reader, bookseller, publisher, columnist, photographer, cook, hiker, kayaker, freelance writer, and workaholic who likes to garden. He has three articles available at Constant Content and has made his first sale with Karlonia.com.

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