Hello everyone, this is Elbie Blount from Scott County, TN. Winter always seems so long, but then one day out of the blue, I wake from my winter slumber to find that I overslept. This seems to happen to me each year. I struggle to keep up with planting seeds and plants and keeping beds weeded and mulched. Sometimes I feel defeated by it all. Lately, I have been going through my spring ritual of starting vegetables, herbs, and flowers in cell packs. I fill the cell packs with seed starter soil, water them thoroughly, plant seeds following the directions on each seed pack, and label the cells with homemade plastic labels cut from milk jugs.
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The cell packs are in their leak proof tray and I cover the tray with the clear plastic cover that comes with the tray to keep the moisture high so the seeds can germinate. This covered seed starting tray cannot be in direct sun or the seedlings could get too hot.
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This year I splurged and purchased a heat mat to put under my seed tray. We received a handout at a recent Grow Appalachia meeting which showed how long it takes seeds to germinate at different temperatures. The heat mat really speeds up the germination process. As soon as the seeds germinate, I cut those cells out with the plant label and place them inside a tray of empty cell packs in front of my east window so the cut cells will have support. I placed aluminum foil behind the tray to reflect light so the seedlings don’t lean toward the window. Every day I also turn the tray around to help keep the light even. This year I put a fan on low toward the seedlings because I have read it makes the seedlings stronger to be grown in a breeze.
I always plant too many seeds in each cell, so I either have to thin the plants or separate them and replant in new pots. When the plants get large enough and it gets close to the last frost date, around May 10th, I put them on the front porch so they can acclimate to the outdoor temperatures before I place them in the ground.
Summer will be here before we know it so let the outdoor chores of tilling, digging, raking, mulching and planting begin. Happy Springtime to all!