Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 Tips for Maximizing the Germination of your Vegetable Seeds

So you have decided to save even more money with your vegetable garden by starting your plants from seeds. There is no question that the amount of money you save when you start from seeds is tremendous. Seed packets range in price from a buck to three bucks and the amount of seeds you receive for such a low cost are just mere pennies (or less) per seed.

Just because the cost is low does not mean you should not take the necessary steps to maximize the production of the seeds that you do buy. Here are some tips that I have outlined to help you do just that.

Start Indoors
Give your seeds a head start before the frost ends by starting them indoors. Find a location in your home such as a window sill, that receives sunlight first thing in the morning. By placing your planted seeds in this location three to six weeks prior to the end of frost in your area, your seeds will have sprouted and you can move actual plants outdoors. As a note, just because frost ends in your area does not mean that all plants can be moved outdoors. For example, tomatoes and peppers love hot weather, so you will want to plan appropriately for your area when those weather conditions occur.

Seed Starting Soil
Use a good seed starting soil. If you have been conditioning your own garden with composting techniques and manures, then by all means use the soil from your garden. Transplanting will be a lot easier. Just remember that if you are taking your soil from the outdoors to the indoors to let it warm up first before you plant a seed in it. If using your own soil may not be ideal for you, use a good seed starting soil available at any home or garden center for just a few bucks. They retain moisture very well and are produced for seed starting purposes.

Propagation Dome
Think of a propagation dome as a mini-greenhouse for indoors. Propagation domes allow for a better environment for your seeds to start by allowing the air around the seeds to be a constant yet warm temperature. This increases the chances of the seeds to germinate and at a quicker pace (sometimes). They are available at any home center or online and can cost anywhere from three dollars up through fifty dollars, depending on how advanced you get. You can also create your own by using yogurt cups as your seed starting pots and then placing clear plastic bottles over top.

Do not over water your seeds. Over watering will prohibit your seeds from germinating in many cases. Just a light watering will do. If you are using a propagation dome, I have found in my own experiences, that you lightly water your seedlings once in the beginning and won’t have to water again until you move them outdoors. Your results may vary.

Hardening Off
Hardening off is the process of acclimating your seedlings to the outdoors. If you simply take your seedlings from the indoors directly to the outdoors you may shock the new plant and their growth could cease and/or the plant could die. Get your new seedlings used to the outdoors first by moving them out during the day when temperatures get better and then bring them in before it cools down at night. This will help increase the plants chances of success when you finally move them to the outdoors.

As a side note, if you are growing root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips and so on, it is best to start them directly outdoors when the temperatures allow. Try to use seeds that are newer than five years as the germination rate of seeds decline for many varieties past the five year mark. When not in use, be sure to store your seeds in a cool, dry location to maximize their life span.

As for a very popular question asked, “should I soak my seeds before planting?”, I rarely do it and have had great success, others swear by it for such seeds as beets, peas and beans. Experiment and see what works best for you.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Seeds of the Month Club:

No comments:

Post a Comment