Gardener's Grapevine 2012.02.08

Written by David Green.

Have you ever started your own plants from seeds? If you own your own greenhouse you are not allowed to answer that question. Starting plants from seeds with a greenhouse vs. without one is like cooking on a Viking stove vs. a hot plate. The challenge is not the same.

I have tried starting my own plants without a greenhouse. I stunk at it. However, I should point out that I read the package on the little seed boxes instead of going to a reliable source. I did get germination and little hair-like sprouts which died quickly for two reasons: I didn’t talk to them enough and I had to peek, which required removing the protective cover to see how they were doing. I am like a kid at Christmas when it comes to waiting for just about anything. Even though it says keep covered, what’s a little lift of the cover going to do? Well, it let in all new air and changed the humidity the tender sprouts were used too. The end result? Death.

So I got to thinking and reading about how to successfully start plants from seeds. There are many benefits to doing this, but it depends on why you are doing it. Starting your own can be a lot less expensive than purchasing plants from a greenhouse, but if you start the plants later in the garden from seeds, this will put you ahead of the game and extend your growing time as well as harvest yields.

Lets start with seeds. The quality of the seeds is of utmost importance. Seeds must be fresh and not ever exposed to moisture. Old seeds that are improperly stored or are exposed to moisture or disease causing environmental fall-out, will not germinate correctly. There is usually a date on the packets and it is the date of harvest not packaged date. 

Germination media should be loose, well-drained, fine particles free from disease organisms. Containers can be most anything that is clean and chemical free. I have talked about cutting toilet paper rolls in half and tying them together in groups of three to plant in. This is supposed to be ideal as there are no chemicals in the rolls and basically just raw paper that will disintegrate in the garden.

One part bleach to nine parts water is a great sterilization medium for containers after they are washed in soapy water. This is really important or the plants will rot off from disease or fungus. Fill the containers three-quarters of the way full of the germination media and sow seeds as directed on the package. Top off containers with vermiculite mixture.

There are two ways to water the seeds. Either spritz them with a fine mist from a clean spray bottle or set containers in a pan of water and let them soak up water until they’re damp. Cover the containers with plastic and set them out of direct sunlight and away from cold to allow them to germinate.

The seed packets will assist you by stating how long a period germination is. Uncover the plant upon germination and move it to a sunny area.

For information on when to start a certain plant, I like the University of Missouri extension website.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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