Time4me HomeLife Club

10 Valuable Seed Starting Tips

Enjoy these 10 valuable tips to help you get your seeds off to a great start for a fantastic garden this year. Whether you're starting your seeds indoors, or sowing seeds directly into your garden, check out these 10 great tips for planting your seeds.

Seed Starting Tip #1 - Recycle 1

Anything that holds soil and has holes to let extra water run out can work just as well as those expensive seed starting kits you find in most garden seed catologues and stores. Here's just a few ideas; plastic and plastic foam take-out boxes from your favorite deli or restaurant, milk cartons, pie and cake tins, plastic shoe boxes, paper/plastic/foam drinking cups, margarine/cottage cheese/yogurt containers, etc. You'll be helping the planet at the same time!

Seed Starting Tip #2 - Recycle 2

Have a lot of plastic shopping bags? Put them to good use to help your seeds germinate better. Just wrap them loosely around your seed flats to hold in just the right amount of moisture. When seedlings appear, remove the bags and place your flats under lights.

Seed Starting Tip #3 - Preparing Your Seed Beds

To give your plants the best start possible, it's a good idea to prepare the beds (or holes) before sowing seeds (or bedding plants) directly into the ground. Get their new home ready by cultivating the ground with organic fertilizer or time-release fertilizer. Also, you may want to cover your seeds with potting soil to prevent crust from forming and make it easier for them to sprout.

Seed Starting Tip #4 - Seedling Elixer

Soon after planting into prepared beds, seedlings may need a little time to stretch their roots and take advantage of the fertilizer you've provided for them. Use this elixer to help strengthen them for 2 to 3 weeks after planting them. Put 2 cups manure and 1/2 cup instant tea granules into an old nylon stocking and let it steep in 5 gallons of water for several days. Dilute the brew with 4 parts of warm water in your mister and spray your seedlings with it every few days after planting.

Seed Starting Tip #5 - Thinning

As a general rule of (green)thumb, the best time to thin seedlings is about 3 weeks after planting.

Seed Starting Tip #6 - Hardening Off

Get your seedlings ready for the great outdoors by acclimatizing them -- often referred to as "hardening off" -- by setting them outside in a protected place for a few hours a day for a day or two, working up to all day and night over a period of a week or so.

Seed Starting Tip #7 - Bedding Area Tonic

If you've chosen to sow some of your seeds directly into the garden, here's a great tonic to help them grow strong. Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap with 1 teaspoon of ammonia and 1 teaspoon of whiskey. Add this mixture to 1 quart of weak tea and pour into your mist-sprayer bottle. Shake gently and mist the surface of beds planted with seeds once a day with this tonic.

Seed Starting Tip #8 - Starter Tonic

Whether you plan on starting your seeds indoors or out, try this mixture to send them off on a great start: 1 cup vinegar, 1 tbsp. baby shampoo or liquid dish soap, and 2 cups warm water. Mix all 3 ingredients together in a bowl, then soak your seeds in the mixture overnight before planting them in prepared soil.

Seed Starting Tip #9 - Damping-Off Prevention Tonic

Have you ever seen your fragile seedlings start to rot at the lower stems within days of popping up? This could be what is called "damping-off" -- a no-cure risk to all seedlings. Here's a quick tonic which may help. Mix 4 teaspoons of chamomile tea with 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap in 1 quart of boiling water. Let steep for at least an hour (the stronger the better), strain, then cool. Mist your seedlings as soon as their heads appear.

Seed Starting Tip #10 - Compost Tea

Fend off disease and feed your plants all at the same time with you're own homemade compost tea. Pour approximately 4-1/2 gallons of warm water into a 5 gallon bucket. Scoop approx. 1-1/2 gallons of compost into a burlap or panty-hose sack, tie it closed, and put it into the water... then cover the bucket and let it steep for 7 to 10 days. Use a watering can or spritzer to give your plants a drink of compost tea every 2 to 3 weeks. They'll love you for it!

gardening tips - planting seedlings

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