The Free Press, Mankato, MN


April 16, 2014

Market Corner: Starting vegetable seeds


Starting vegetable seeds

Starting vegetable seeds is a rewarding and almost instantly gratifying task as the plants quickly grow. Planting them correctly is the key to success.

Seeds need to be started in shallow containers. You can also use plug trays, egg cartons or short 6-pack planting containers. The majority of the seeds we start for veggies need only 6-8 weeks of growth before planting outside. Here in southern Minnesota, zone 4, we can usually start planting outside about mid-May. Peppers like 8-9 weeks of growth, tomatoes 6-8 weeks. If you start them too early, your plants will likely be too tall and leggy, and will not transition well to the outdoor wind as easily as short and stockier plants.

If a seed does not state a planting depth on the packet, the general rule of thumb is three times the thickness of the seed. A window sill alone is not adequate light for starting quality plants. Yes, they may grow, but after you put them in the garden, they will likely need 2-3 weeks to catch up.

Lighting: The main challenge in growing healthy, stocky transplants is lighting. It is best to have a fluorescent light. Lights should always be about 4 inches above the seed flats or plants. You may need to place bumpers under your containers to create the correct distance as plants grow at different rates; or, have the ability to raise and lower the lights.

Soil: Seeds should be planted in a soil-less mix. Never use garden soil. Soil less mix, or seed starter mix, will be disease-free and offer good drainage. Do not overpot by starting in large containers — about the size of an ice cube (or less) is all the soil space needed per seed.

Water: Seeds and plants should stay moist but not saturated or left standing in water. Containers should drain freely.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Alicia Keys is Pregnant With Second Child Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? 'Bachelorette' Star Nick Viall Talks Intimate Experience with Andi Dorfman Jessica Alba Sizzles on the Cover of Maxim Allison Williams Shares Peter Pan Throwback Pic Kim Kardashian Defends Brother Rob Against His Ex Adrienne Bailon Bradley Cooper And Sienna Miller Working Together Again You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Legs For Days! Megan Fox Rocks a Silver Mini Is Nick Viall Next for "The Bachelor"? Beyonce Fires Back at New Breakup Rumors No Man, No Problem! Katy Perry Talks Babies Jeah! See Ryan Lochte's 10,000 Calorie Diet "Guardians of Galaxy" Cast Shares Inside Scoop Allison Williams Will Star as Peter Pan in Live TV Broadcast Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Drew Barrymore's Half-Sister Found Dead Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Ariana Grande's Troubled Relationship With Father