Starting seeds early in the growing season indoors is a great way to get a jump on production each year. Last week 3rd and 4th graders at Powell Valley Primary School began the planting process inside.

The main reason we choose to start the seeds inside was so the kids could see the beginning of what their final plants will be. Personally, I thought that this would give them some satisfaction in seeing a plant start from a tiny little spec and turning into a big red tomato or green pepper.

How to on starting plants inside:

  1. You can start your seeds in almost any type of container as long as it is at least 2 to 3 inches deep and has some drainage holes.
  2. To provide the optimum growing conditions, and to avoid disease and insect problems, seeds should be started in a soilless growing mix, not in garden soil. A good blend is fine-textured, moist and spongy.
  3. Seeds sprout and plants grow at different rates, so timing is very important. Some seeds, such as celery and leeks, should be started 12 weeks before they are transplanted into the garden. Others, including cucumbers and sunflowers, need only three or four weeks (and will suffer if started too early).
  4. The growing medium should be thoroughly moistened before it is placed in your seed-starting containers.
  5. The temperatures for optimum germination listed on seed packets refer to soil temperature, not air temperature. Though some seeds germinate best at a soil temperature of 60 degrees F, and some at 85 degrees, most prefer a temperature of about 78 degrees.
  6. Most seeds don’t require light to germinate, but as soon as they sprout, they need to be placed in a south-facing window or under grow lights that are designed for growing plants.
  7. Germination requires consistent moisture. It is important that the soil be kept moist but not soggy to prevent the seeds from rotting.
  8. Most seedlings like a humidity level of 50 to 70 percent. Higher humidity levels and poor air circulation can lead to fungus growth on the soil surface and disease problems.
  9. Once the weather has warmed up, you can start “hardening off” your seedlings by gradually exposing them to the great outdoors.

Following these easy steps can help any gardener end up with higher quality plants as well as being able to get produce much quicker.

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