March 19, 2021 4 min read
The essentials you need:
Lightweight soil mixture that won’t retain too much water like our EB Stone Seed Starting Mix.
Fiber or plastic cell pots to hold your soil and seed.
A drainage tray to catch water from your cell pots.
Also maximize success by using a biodome or mini-greenhouse, this will retain the humidity and help keep the soil moist.
If you are not in Portland, you may not necessarily need a growing light. However if you are in Rose City, we are known for our grey winter skies, and seedlings need a lot of light and comfortable temperatures (65°-75°) to grow. A lot of the produce we grow in our gardens are originally from places closer to the equator that receive much more sunlight throughout the year. For our demonstration we used the Sun Blaster Growlight Garden, which we carry here at Cornell Farms.
1. Not enough light is number one. As we learned in grade school, plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, which is how they make their food. Without enough light, the plants will stretch, stems will not be strong, therefore create a weak plant. This is especially important for plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc.
2. Watering habits are important for seedlings. Overwatering is the most common cause of seedling failure. The soil should always be damp, but not soaking. The roots of plants need air, more specifically oxygen. Overwatering your plant in essence drowns the plant as it cannot get enough oxygen from its roots. Also when watering seedlings, its best to water them from the bottom up, i.e. letting plastic cell pots soak up water but not sit in water longer than 15-20 minutes. Pouring water on top could disrupt the seed and the soil, causing the seedling to be exposed directly to light and air.
3. The depth at which you plant your seeds is also important. Too deep and the seedling may never reach the surface after it germinates. Too shallow and a shift in the top soil could expose the seedling too early. Consult the seed packet for instruction on each particular variety, as it can vary widely even within the same species.
4. When starting seeds indoors, it’s important to “harden off” the plants. They cannot go straight from growing indoors to being planted outside. This process of acclimating a plant is simple but crucial. When the time is appropriate (read seed packets), plants should be placed outside for increasing periods of time. This should take place over the course of about two weeks. The first day they should be outside for about an hour, and the last day they should be outside for the majority of the day. This allows the plant to adjust to, wind, varying weather, and direct sunlight.
5. Lastly, when sowing your seeds, pay attention to how much space they require from other seeds. Plants that are too close to each other will stunt each others growth as they do not have enough room to expand and their roots will get tangled up.
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