Q. Can you give me some tips for starting seeds indoors?
First, moisten (not soak) the growing medium, either using warm water in a spray bottle or dampening it in a bucket. The mix should be damp but not soggy. When sowing seed in flats do so sparingly so that there will be plenty of room for the seedlings to grow. When sowing seed in smaller containers, make sure to plant 2 to 3 seeds per container as germination rate is never 100%.
Follow instructions on the labels for planting depth. Most seeds need to be planted at a depth of 2 to 3 times the diameter of the seed. When planting large seeds, create a small furrow by pressing a ruler ¼ inch into the mix. Cover seeds lightly with either vermiculite or the potting medium. Some seeds, however, need light to germinate. Simply place those on top of the medium and gently press them in. After planting, mist the surface of the mix.
Covering the tray with a plastic dome or a clear plastic bag helps to keep moisture in; remove the cover once the seedlings have germinated. Seeds will not germinate if they are too dry, too wet or too cold. Initially, they prefer a temperature of 70 degrees F while germinating. Placing them on top of the refrigerator in your home is a good place to start the germination process.
Check your seeds every day. If the top of the mix feels dry, water gently. Either water from below by filling a tray with an inch of water and laying the flat in it to soak up the water, or water from above by attaching a rose to your watering can to break the pressure of the water. The best way to water in a uniform manner is to start pouring away from the seed flats and then make a sweeping motion over the flats or containers.
For complete information on choosing your growing medium and container, timing your planting and moving seedlings outdoors, please refer to our guide Sowing Seeds Indoors.
Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service
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