Germinating Your Own Seeds

Tips for germinating your own seeds whether indoors or out.

Growing plants from seed not only gives you a head start on the season, it can cut costs. Here are a few tips to help germination of seeds.

Light

Without sunlight, plants wither and die. Plants need sunlight to grow even from their beginnings as seeds. Outside, placing seeds under sunlight should prove easy. But sometimes placing plants near a window when grown inside can be difficult. Artificial lighting can be used. Search the supermarkets, farm markets and home and garden stores for grow lights. Artificial lighting can range from aquarium lights to grow lights that are manufactured specifically for growing plants inside.

The correct placing of light is a factor that affects growth of the plants. Until the seed pushes through, the light source should be placed three to four inches above the planted seed. If not placed correctly, growth time could be hampered.

Soil

Soil choice is important. It gives the seed some protection from the elements and provides nutrients that it cannot produce on its own.

A soil that retains moisture well and has the nutrients necessary is preferred. There are commercial soil mixes specifically made for germination. It is usually a combination of peat (peat moss), perlite (mineral rock used to provide moisture retention and aeration) and fertilizers. The best type of soil depends on many things such as type of seed grown and the container in which grown. Some seeds such as vegetable seeds need more fertilizers to give them a good start. Others need more peat for moisture retention. Check the seed packages or catalogs and books for seed culture on what soils are best for what type seeds.

Peat pellets and peat sponges are an easy way to start plants indoors by seed. They can be bought at any home and garden store and sometimes a local supermarket or farm market. They are made of compressed peat that expands once water is added. The plant will have to be repotted into a bigger container once it reaches a certain height(and has outgrown the peat pellet!).



Make your own mix by adding equal amounts of peat, topsoil and fertilizers such as cow manure (depending on the type of seed grown).

Water and Temperature

Monitoring water content of seeds is a must. Too much water can cause the seed to drown and not grow or can cause mold problems if not careful. Too little water and the seed won't grow. The soil should be damp to the touch. Stick your finger in the soil beside the seed, careful not to disturb the seed too much. If your finger comes out damp, the soil is wet enough.

Most seeds best germinate between 65 and 80 degrees. If it is too cool in the area you start the seeds, use a hot mat made for germination of seeds. You can search catalogs and home and garden stores for these. Wait until the soil warms up 55-60 degrees before germinating seeds outdoors.

Space: Where and What Containers to Use

Seeds can be started in any space as long as the other needs have been met. Greenhouses, mini greenhouses, domes that can be placed over the seeds and pots are popular choices to start seeds. Use any plant stand or shelf to place the containers.

Peat pots are an inexpensive way to start seeds. Peat pots are pots made from compressed peat moss much like the peat pellets and sponges. They look and feel like paper pots. Pots can be found at most stores. They range in the smaller sized peat pots to the biggest porch planters. Generally, seeds started indoors are better grown in smaller pots because lack of bigger space.

There are special containers that are divided into cells to better start many seeds. You will have to transplant the plants once they reach a certain size but these containers are a great way to start seeds.

The size of the container needed is going to depend on what type of seed is grown. Most flower seeds can be grown in the smaller peat pots and the special divided containers. But vegetable seeds will need the bigger sized peat pots (two to three inch pots) or other pots such as planters, buckets and even old boots (as long as holes can be drilled into it). Most times once the seed has sprouted and reached a certain size it is then replanted into a bigger pot or its final growing spot.

Greenhouses are another great way to start your own seeds. Search catalogs for a good greenhouse sized for the area you have. There are books on how to build your own greenhouse too. Greenhouses are generally expensive but there are a few that are priced lower for the average home gardener.

Seeds are usually inexpensive and can be found at any farm market, supermarket or home and garden store. Also, look through garden catalogs to find seeds and seed starting supplies. Germinating your own seed can be fun, inventive and rewarding. It saves space, time and cost.

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