Thursday, April 2, 2009

Start some seeds indoors--but hurry

If you are planning a large vegetable garden this year, growing your own transplants offers advantages over direct seeding.

Germinating seeds in a greenhouse, hotbed or your home can reduce transplant mortality and improve seedling vigor according to a University of Missouri Extension horticulture specialist.

“The proper time for indoor seeding depends on when plants may normally be moved outdoors,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “This generally ranges from four to ten weeks prior to outdoor planting depending upon the speed the seedlings grow and cultural conditions within the home.”

In order to get the best germination results indoors, a loose, well-drained and fine textured medium (soil) is recommended.

“It is best to purchase a growing media commercially that has been sterilized, eliminating various pathogens,” Byers said.

Some of the most common pitfalls that reduce successful home seeding include high temperatures, poor light and excessive moisture.

“Once the seedlings develop one set of true leaves they should be transplanted to individual pots or spaced out in flats to prevent spindly seedlings that will not develop properly,” Moore said.

If you need additional gardening and horticultural advice, or want to obtain a copy of guide sheet 6570, “Starting Plants From Seeds” or G6965 "Building and Using Hotbeds and Cold Frames,” contact the Master Gardener Helpline at (417) 862-9284, or the nearest University of Missouri Extension center.

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