Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's Seed Starting Time

 Well, actually, it's been seed starting time for awhile, but it's not too late to start yours now.  Back in early March, I spent some pleasant hours in the garden shed starting tomato, pepper, herb, and flower seeds for the spring.
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Seedling flats filled with soil

I reuse the plastic 4- and 6- pack containers in which I purchase annuals and other plants for the garden.  They fit nicely in the rectangular trays the nursery provides, and also fit perfectly under my grow lights.  When I plant tomatoes and peppers, I sterilize the soil with a solution of bleach to kill soil-borne diseases.  I do not sterilize the soil for other plants because they are not as susceptible to disease.  I also use new seed starting mixture or potting soil to avoid disease.

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Some of my seed packets
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Ready for the grow lights!

I took these pictures earlier in the winter when I started my plants for the spring garden.  These plants are outside now (the ones that lived, anyway) and I now have a crop of tomatoes under the grow lights.
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Resting under the grow lights, waiting to sprout

On nice days, I put the growing plants outside for a little morning sun.  Artificial light is not as good as sunlight, and the plants become straighter and sturdier when exposed to the sun.  At this time of the year, I watch the weather carefully and bring them inside if the temperatures get into the high forties.  Temperatures below forty will damage tomatoes.  Of course, I leave my cool-weather-loving plants outside as long as the temperature remains above freezing.  

Every day, I leave the plants outside in the sun a little longer until they are able to tolerate being outside all day.  Like people, plants can sunburn from too much exposure to the sun at once, although they do eventually become accustomed to constant sun exposure, unlike people!

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