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Some tips on starting seeds.

I have just started my garden seeds and have a couple of tips to pass along.

I've come across a great new product if you start your own seeds. They are compartmentalized peat pots that are formed to fit the plastic trays that garden centers use. They look exactly like their plastic counterparts but by using these pots, you can use your trays year after year, plus, there is no plastic mess to send to your local overburdened landfill.

If you do use these garden center trays but don't have the clear plastic lids to them which create a greenhouse effect for the plants, try using oversized clear plastic bags instead. I get mine from several sources. If you buy in bulk at the warehouse wholesale centers that are becoming so popular, you might find that your paper goods (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) come enclosed in large, clear (except for the company's logo) bags that are perfect. Another source are dry cleaning bags; however, they are a bit flimsier than the paper goods bags.

After I have planted my seeds, I enclose the whole thing in an oversize clear plastic bag and seal it with a recycled twist tie. (I save these from bread bags, etc.) Then, using two empty margarine tubs, I set the tray over my registers, leaving 3 or 4 inches clearance between the bottom of the tray and the register. This is especially good for finicky warm weather seeds such as peppers, tomatoes, etc. The cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, etc.) don't usually require as much soil warmth to germinate so I forego this step for them.

When the plants have sprouted, remove the plastic bags and place the plants under fluorescent lighting.

My plant growing area isn't fancy. Down in the basement I use an old door that has been placed on saw horses to form a table. When the plants are out in the garden, I can dismantle the whole operation in a matter of minutes. I use shop lights that can be obtained very reasonably from a discount department store. I suspend the lights by hooking them to chain (the type used to tie up dogs) that is attached to the ceiling. This enables me to raise and lower the lights based on the size of the plants. I never bother with timing the lights as some experts suggest, but leave the lights on all the time. Because they are fluorescent lights, the electricity cost is relatively low.

When the plants have reached sufficient size, I gradually harden them off by placing them in a protected location outside for increasing periods of time. It is important not to leave the tender plants where sun or wind can dry them out.

After about a week of this, the plants are ready to place out into the garden. I've found that the "Wall of Water" is especially helpful in warming the soil for tomatoes and peppers and also protects them from late freezes.

I hope these tips help others successfully start their own plants. That is the only way to get the exact varieties you want at an affordable price. For instance, this year I am growing eight varieties of peppers. Your local garden center just can't carry that kind of variety but that shouldn't stop you from growing what you want.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Miller, Sandy
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:557
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