Sunday, June 7, 2009

It's a matter of growing plants....from seed, Part C

Dear Folks:

In the final installment of this series, written by guest blogger, Jenifer B, she shares more of her "secrets of success". I hope you have attempted some if not all of her suggestions. Knowing how to do this from seed increases your skill sets and gives you the freedom to be more self sufficient.


I store my seeds in my spare refrigerator in one of the veggie crisper drawers. The packets that are opened, I store them in mason jars. Otherwise, new packets are put in a Ziploc bag. These are all in the crisper drawer. I am on my 5th year for most seeds and they are still germinating well.

Also, there are alternative sources for seeds called Seed Banks. Usually they are owned and maintained by individual state governments. They definitely want your business because they want to prevent the extinction of ‘heritage’ type seeds. These seeds are not hybrid, which is even better because you can harvest the seeds to use next year. (see above websites for more info on how to do this). This creates an added savings. You can also get seeds for plants that are hard to find or that Burpee or other commercial sources will not supply. I have purchase rare chile seeds from New Mexico for my salsa. They are wonderful. Just make sure that the seeds you are interested in will grow in your climate. New Mexico’s climate is fairly close to Utah.

Eventually, as the seedlings grow larger, you will need to transplant them into larger containers. I use small plastic bathroom cups to transplant cucumbers, beans, etc. But I use larger drink cups for tomatoes and squash, peppers, i.e. plants that have a faster growth rate or just need more room.
I drill holes in the bottom of them for drainage.

And yes, I re-use them. Just clean with a 10% bleach solution to disinfect them. Also, save any of the plant containers that you may have purchased from the garden center. Just clean and re-use. Use potting/seedling mix, preferably without plant food already mixed in. Jiffy has a good one and it is not very expensive.

Basics during the growing process

Always, always water from the bottom, never from overhead. This helps prevent mold…an enemy that you want to avoid.

After the plants have gained their first set of ‘true’ leaves, you can begin feeding them. I feed them 3 times a week with Miracle-gro (or equivalent) diluted down to 25% i.e. you use quarter the strength it calls for on the label. This usually equates to around ¼ teaspoon for every two quarts.

Make sure to keep the lights as close to the seedling as possible. This helps prevent the seedlings from getting leggy because they will not have to stretch for light. Also, as time gets closer to planting, temperatures will increase. You will want to keep temperatures around 70 degrees. You can install a small fan for circulation or you can simply open up the mylar blanket during the day to get circulation in. This also helps prevent mold.

I found the best plants to start with are tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers. They are pretty easy. Peas, radish, carrots and such do not need to be started under lights. They didn’t seem too happy about being transplanted. I just sow them directly into the soil.

For more detailed information, consult the websites above ( and or go to as I have not gone into enough detail for you to use this as your only source of information. Once you get started, you will get hooked. Then you can venture into different plants like:

Watermelon! This is sugar baby watermelon…it tasted great!

Lettuce; romaine and red sails, swiss chard, radish, and peas


even flowers…

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