Thursday, March 20, 2008

Seed Starting

If you haven't already started your garden seeds, now is the time. Last week I went over to Mike's house to take a look at his seed starting operation. He started his cool weather crops, both vegetable and ornamental, back in February. This past weekend he was going to transplant those seedlings into larger containers and start some of the warm season vegetables.

He puts his seed trays on heat mats and uses an adjustable fluorescent light system. the lights hang down from the ceiling on chains that can be adjusted upward as the seedlings grow. Because he plants so many, he doesn't use segregated packs but instead plants the seeds altogether in larger containers. When the second set of true leaves emerge, he pricks out the seedlings and replants them in individual containers.

Mike doesn't have a fan going but I know several gardeners that start plants from seed and use a fan. This helps reduce disease and actually makes the plants stronger. Mike does use yellow sticky traps for the fungus gnats that sometimes infect plants, including house plants. White flies are also attracted to the color yellow, so if you have problems with insects in your house plants, put a few yellow sticky traps out.

A new plant Mike is growing this year is our favorite Red Bore Kale. This is an ornamental kale that is a great container plant. We first saw it down at the Ball Seed Trial Gardens last year. It looks great planted in the ground, also.

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