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March 10, 2020 37 min
Have you ever started seeds at home? What was the outcome? Were the seedlings leggy and stretched? Did the seedlings die?   If these are some experiences that you have had, no more! Today, on episode 1 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast, I will share secrets to growing seeds indoors successfully. This information will make the difference and I assure that you will have healthier plants to transplant later into the garden. Stay with me to hear what secrets I have for starting seeds indoors for the Kentucky garden. The joys of starting seeds Starting seeds indoors can be such a rewarding experience for many gardeners! The thought of planting small seeds in the soil, watching them emerge each day, handling the tiny seedlings, and seeing them develop into young plants just warms my soul! Then, when the time is conducive for planting outdoors, gardeners can transplant their seedlings into the ground to watch it grow and mature further into an adult plant. This process from seed to plant is pure satisfaction and gratification for avid home gardeners! Home gardeners are able to grow new, improved, and unusual plant varieties that they might not find available at local garden centers or nurseries. For instance, if you can’t find an heirloom tomato variety called ‘Hillbilly Potato Leaf Tomato’, get seed from another grower and grow it yourself. Gardeners can be the best source for heirloom varieties. Another added benefit with starting seeds at home is that gardeners reduce the amount of time required between planting and harvesting of at least 4 to 8 weeks. This my friends is music to my ears! What to know ahead of time? While starting seeds indoors is fun, it does require time and patience from gardeners. Regular monitoring of transplants is essential. Check seedlings daily for water and to see if any additional fertilizer is needed. Growing seeds at home will require equipment such as grow lights, maybe a plant stand if growing several different plants, trays to support the developing plants, and possibly a timer system. Cost of this equipment be based on your needs, so make sure to budget for them.  List of materials for starting seeds indoors 1. Seed Find a reputable source for seed. Companies that are reputable will stand behind their product and replace seed if there is a problem. Make sure seed varieties are locally adapted to the area.   For recommendations on vegetables, check out ID-133. It lists vegetable cultivars that are suitable for Kentucky.  Seeds sold in packages should display the crop, cultivar, germination, percentage, and chemical seed treatments, if any. Make sure to pay close attention to the sell by date. Inspect the seed before starting. Buy new seed since some seeds over a year old will not germinate (sprout) well. 2. Artificial Lighting A lot of gardeners that I talk to one on one at the Extension Office mention to me that they start their seeds in the windowsill. In other areas of the United States, this area may be fine, but for Kentucky, we get poor results when starting seeds in the windowsill. Seedlings turn out leggy and stretched where they are trying to reach the light. Options may be to use cool white fluorescent lamps alone, use a mixture of cool white and warm white fluorescent lamps, or a mixture of cool white and plant growth fluorescent lamps. All of these options are acceptable. Position the lamps 5 to 10 inches above the foliage. Operate them 12 to 18 hours/day. It might be a good idea to purchase a timer that will allow the lights to come on and off automatically. Keep seedlings cool enough about 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for strong, sturdy growth after germination occurs. Do-it-yourself (DIY) grow light stand constructed out of PVC pipe 3. Soil Media Mix A desirable soil medium for starting seed should be loose, well-drained and fine-textured. It should not contain any disease causing organism...
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