Sunday, March 16, 2008

Starting seeds in Canada

So, in my eagerness to start my garden, I thought that I might start some of my seeds indoors this weekend. After realizing that it is a bit too soon to start, I have decided to postpone my seed-starting until next weekend. There are a lot of resources out there, on the web as well as books and magazines. Newer Canadian gardeners need to realize that most information out there is for warmer climates, usually in the US. Most Canadian gardeners that I have talked to usually aim for planting after the May long weekend. That is 9 weeks away, and while some of my seed packets say "plant indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost", I think that I am going to wait until next weekend to start these seeds.

I have found a couple resources on the web that have given helpful hints to starting seeds indoors. Of them all, the most important seem to be:

1. Use sterile soil (or another sterile medium). To make your own, you can take your own soil, sift out clumps and stones and then bake it. I bought a bag of soil.

2. Fill pots or flats (I am using peat pots) to within 1/4 inch of the top with your potting mixture and level the surface. It's a good idea to water the soil and allow it to drain thoroughly before sowing the seeds. Make a hole for each seed with your finger. Keep in mind that most seeds need to be planted four times as deep as the seed is wide. If your seeds are very fine, cover them with a fine layer of soil.

3. Soil should be kept evenly moist but not soaking wet. Too much moisture will cause the seeds to rot. Use a fine sprayer to water newly planted seeds and tiny seedlings or, if possible, water from the bottom. If you can, slip your pots and flats into plastic bags to keep the humidity and moisture even and reduce the frequency of watering.

4. The care you give your seedlings in the weeks following germination is critical. Keep it moist, but not dripping. Small pots and flats dry out quickly, so check it often. If your seedlings are growing in a windowsill, turn often to encourage straight stems.

5. It is important not to start seeds indoors too early. If they outgrow your flats or small pots you might try thinning them and transplanting the largest to bigger pots, but for the most part you want to plant them outside just as they become large enough to survive transplanting.

So, with all these points in mind, I will be waiting until next weekend.

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