The Q&A Archives: Seed Starting

Question: I am starting seeds under artificial light and heating pads that keep the soil at 70. My garden book says some seeds need darkness to start. Does that mean the seeds simply need to be covered with soil or should I cover the whole seed flat with something that will prevent the light from hitting it at all? And, once the seeds germinate should I continue to heat the flats? If they need light to germinate should I not bury them in the soil at all?

Answer: Starting seeds can be somewhat confusing to new gardeners. Here are some basics to help you along: Most seeds will germinate in the dark, and most seeds need warmth to germinate. Once they've sprouted, they need lots of light, and less warmth. So, plant your seeds in moist potting soil, cover the tray with plastic, and put it on top of your refrigerator until they germinate. Then remove the plastic and put them in a brightly lit area. If you have heating cables and artificial lights, you can put the seed trays on the cables until the seeds germinate, then turn the heat off and turn the lights on for 14-16 hours each day. Seeds should be planted only twice as deep as they are wide. If they're planted too deeply they'll run out of energy beforethe sprout can reach the light and begin the process of photosynthesis. If planted too shallow, the roots will push the seedlings right out of the soil.<br><br>Hope the above clears up some of the confusion!

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