Gardener's Notebook - Seeds started already

The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be holding their next regular meeting on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. at SIGN on North Street in Yorkton.  The topic will be “Fairy Gardens”. Come and find out more about it! It’s a fun and challenging way to create a planter for gardeners of all ages, a very interesting and magical addition to your patio! Remember, you don’t have to be a member of the group to come to the meetings.  Everyone is welcome!

Did you start any seeds this year? I know many of you have done so already, but if you haven’t, not to worry! There’s time; it’s better to plant seeds a little later rather than too early, unless you have a greenhouse, grow lights, or a solarium. If we plant them too early, it is difficult to give the plants the amount of sun that they need, and they become leggy and weak.

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Where to begin? A soil-less mix that provides good drainage is our starting point. Use clean containers, at least three inches deep.  Fill the container up to about half an inch from the top with your planting medium. Be sure that the soil is level, and pressed down gently (not packed). Then plant the seeds in a depth about three times the diameter of the seed. In a four inch square container, we can probably put three to five seeds. They will have to be transplanted later on, but this number will not over-crowd them until they are transplanted.

(If you’re going into this project with great gusto, you may want to use a flatter container to start many seedlings all at once, but just remember that once they have started to grow, you will have to transplant them.  And once they’re transplanted, you will have to have room for the new, larger containers. It seems so obvious, but sometimes our enthusiasm overrides practicality! So, for most of us, planting fewer seeds in smaller containers is a practical plan.)

Now, back to our planting. We can make small, shallow rows or indentations for the seeds. Then we cover the seeds carefully with soil, and water them gently so that we don’t move the soil. Place the containers on a tray or in a flat box, cover them with newspaper, a towel, or plastic, and set them in a warm, dark spot to germinate. Be sure that the covering is not touching the soil, and be sure to start checking after a few days for the first miraculous appearance of the new seedlings! When we see this, we uncover them and move them to a sunny location. Keep the soil moist but not wet, to avoid damping-off.

As I’m telling you this, my heart is back in Sweet Pea’s cozy kitchen. What an exciting day when we’d be planting our seeds! We used cut-up milk containers, filled with fragrant soil (you know what I mean: after a long winter, the aroma of potting soil makes it seem like spring is just around the corner!) Mom loved to try new varieties, especially of tomatoes, and after each container was planted it would be carefully labelled and then recorded. We watered the planted containers, spooning out warm water from a glass, then set them in a box, covered them with newspaper, and slid them under the bed in the spare room. After that, Mom could hardly wait to check the boxes each day, sometimes twice a day, to see if her babies had germinated yet.  What delight to see them come up! I can still see her happy, excited face as she worked with her plants, such a beautiful memory for me. This is why I’m excited for you to share the experience: if you’ve never tried starting your own seeds, try a few seeds and catch the excitement!

Isn’t it great to be thinking about our plants and gardens? Love it!  Visit us at www.yorktonhort.ca and have a great week!

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