Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2013
Regional Report

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Violas come in a multitude of varieties. Starting your own plants from seed is economical and fun!

The Miracle of Creating New Life

Planting from seed offers a wealth of variety. Just look in any seed catalog and then compare their selection with that of your local garden store. Starting your own seeds lets you grow whatever strikes your fancy, not just what's offered locally as transplants.

Here are the steps to succeed in planting seeds:

  • Use a commercial seed starting mix. This soil mixture contains all the nutrients necessary to get your seedlings off to a good start. Dampen the seed starting mix prior to planting.

  • Fill a clean nursery flat with the dampened seed starting mix. You can plant more than one variety of seed in a container so long as you label the rows.

  • Create shallow rows in the damp soil mix. Use a plastic knife or a chopstick for this step.

  • Sprinkle the seeds into the prepared rows and label them. Then cover the seeds with no more than 1/4 inch of soil, less for tiny seeds. A common mistake is planting seeds too deep. Keep in mind that each tiny seed contains just enough stored food to burst through its seed coat, send down a root and send up a set of leaves to capture the energy of light. If the seed is planted too deep, it will use up its energy before its leaves see the light.

  • Mist well and place the container in a warm, bright location away from direct sun. Keep the soil damp by misting regularly.

  • Depending on the kind of seed, you should begin to see germination in 7 to 14 days. Once the plants have developed two sets of leaves, transplant into individual containers. Use a fast draining potting soil to fill peat pots or clean nursery cell packs. Lift each seedling from the flat with a fork, being careful not to break the delicate roots. Water after transplanting to settle the soil. Set the transplanted seedlings in a bright, warm area away from direct sunlight.

  • Plant the young plants in the garden when you see roots coming from the bottom of the cell packs. All summer blooming annuals, such as impatiens, snapdragon, and pansies, and warm season vegetables should be started from seed now.

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