Monday, April 26, 2010

Start your own Plants | Kitchen Gardener Thanks - Laura Fox

Rather than buy ready to grow plants from a nursery or garden supply store, many gardeners choose to grow their own seedlings. By doing this, they can control not only the specific varieties they wish to grow but the plant quality as well.
By visiting your local garden supply center or surfing the Internet, you can find literally hundreds of flower and vegetable seed varieties. If you have done the proper research, you may even know which varieties are best suited for organic gardening.
You should first make sure you read the seed package, or if you have received the seeds from a fellow gardener, follow their recommendations. Every seed may have different soil or water requirements and may not be able to be started at the same time.
You may choose to plant them in small containers inside or in a greenhouse. Be sure to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and once growth appears, continue to water, being careful not to drown your new babies. After the second set of growth appears on the new plant, you may need to transplant the seedlings to a larger container until they are ready to be planted in the garden. Some plants which you wish to grow in your garden may be easier and cheaper to start from seed. Lettuce is one vegetable that is just as easy to grow from seed as it is from a plant. Most varieties of lettuce found at nurseries or garden supply stores are not really that big and spending the extra money on such small plants may not be worth it.
You may choose to purchase a seed starter kit from your garden supply store. Some of these are made from organic materials which can be planted directly in the ground when your seedling is ready to plant and will decompose and add organic matter to your soil. You can also choose to use a soil-less potting mixture to start your seedlings. These can provide better drainage than conventional soil and are usually very nutrient-rich.
If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, seedlings can even be started in late winter. This is a great way to get a jump on your gardening and by the time spring has arrived, you seedlings will be ready to plant. You can even make your own mini-greenhouse out of a box frame, a couple of hinges and an old window. The window is attached to the box frame with the hinges and soil or planting mixture is placed inside. Once placed in a nice sunny spot, or even indoors, the window can be lowered to help keep the soil warm and retain moisture. Simply use a wooden stick to prop the window open when you need to conduct maintenance.
Starting seedlings is also a great experience for young children. Having them help you select the plants you want to grow and showing them the proper way to plant and care for them, makes them feel invested in the garden itself. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to eat vegetables or arrange flowers that you have grown yourself, and children feel the same way.

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