How to - Seeds

Seed-starting secrets from Frankie Flowers

Frank Ferragine

How to grow your own plants for your spring garden

Planting your seeds
With adequate moisture and proper soil temperatures (between 20˚ and 25˚C), seeds germinate quite easily. Here are a few rules of thumb (green thumb, that is):

1. Fertilize seeds when they have their first set of true leaves—usually about three to five leaves.

2. Once rooted, transplant into pots one size larger to ensure strong growth and enough room for healthy roots.

3. Just before planting outdoors, most new growths will require hardening off, a process of cooling seedlings down by bringing them outdoors for periods of time, to avoid the risk of frost damage before planting.

4. Determining planting time is entirely weather dependant, especially for
tender plants like peppers and impatiens. The number-one reason for failure is starting your seeds too early, when frost can kill them and cool soil temperatures stunt their growth. Lack of light is the primary reason for seedlings that appear weak or stretched, so pay attention to seed-sowing times as well as local weather forecasts to determine the appropriate time to plant.

Quick tip for beginners
Purchase smaller seeds, such as carrots, beets and radishes, as a seed tape, which you can simply lay down, and lightly cover with soil and water. Within a few short weeks, you’ll see your little friends sprout! Direct-sown outdoor varieties like these are the best for neophyte gardeners.

Like these tips? Get more in Frankie’s new book Get Growing: An everyday guide to High-impact, low-fuss gardens, $29, Harper Collins trade paperback


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