The New Old American Dream

Seed Starting Update

In gardening on March 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

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Several weeks ago I started seeds. I mentioned that I’ve never had any success with seed starting in the past, and so I was not surprised when a similar result seems to be plaguing me this year.

But failure has an up side. I’ve learned more ways NOT to start seeds.

1. Environment. Your seed trays need to be in a consistently warm environment. No house and no garage meant I had limited places to choose from to start seeds so I started them in the hoop house, which apparently doesn’t hold heat well at night. Even the tray with the heat warmer underneath it didn’t germinate. It took three weeks for any kind of germination to occur.

2. Protection. This is linked to the above. Our last frost-free date is April 16th but we’d been riding a nice warm spell with the temps not dropping below upper 30s at night. Knowing our seed starts weren’t germinating like I wanted them too, I bought some at a nearby nursery center. Then we had 2 consecutive nights in the low 20s. Even though I covered all these starts with an Agribon blanket, it wasn’t enough. All the tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos were wiped out. I should have hauled them into the tool shed and set up a heat lamp. (if they were indoors under a heat lamp, they would have never known it was so cold out.)

3. Lots of Light. Even after germination, the plants have remained spindly and small. I want to see strong, vigorous growth. I think they need more hours of direct light each day to achieve this.

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The good news about gardening is that we can always start over. It’s too late for me to start more seeds for the spring, but I’ll reach into my pocket and buy some from someone with more experience. One day, I’ll get there to where I’m raising my own successfully.

In the meantime, here’s a great article on seed starting supplies. Mother Earth News has a good article on seed starting, too.

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  1. The gardening learning curve can be so discouraging. Glad to hear it hasn’t gotten the best of you. :-)

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