All the Dirt: Start that Spring Planning Now

January 30th, 2009 by WY Daily Staff

All the Dirt: Start that Spring Planning Now

Spring is right around the corner and now is the time to plan for your floral displays and vegetable gardens. Seed companies mail catalogs that offer a wealth of information about a plant’s horticultural requirements. So while it’s still a little chilly outside, you can kick back, relax and get excited about everything new you want to try in your garden.

During your planning phase, it really helps to draw a diagram of the area where you want to plant your flowers or vegetables. When designing a floral display, incorporate plants with similar requirements, such as light and water needs. Use the catalogs as a guide when choosing plants of different heights so you can assemble them in a bed with the tallest plants in the back.

Always maintain a log of what goes where in the bed. It is also wise to rotate crops in the bed from year to year. The main reasons for doing this are to balance out the nutritional demands of the soil, and to discourage insects and diseases.

When sowing seeds indoors, light and temperature are important. Use a good all-purpose potting mix. After the seeds are sown, cover lightly with the all-purpose mix. Seeds will begin to germinate with heat and moisture.

A good trick is to place the container on top of your refrigerator to heat up the soil.

Light becomes the important factor after the seeds have germinated. Always attempt to use containers with drainage holes for germination. You want the seeds moist but not sitting in water. You can cover the container with plastic wrap to hold in moisture.

Once you see seeds sprouting, you may need auxiliary light. Use fluorescent lighting about six inches above the seedlings for 16 hours each day. This prevents them from getting spindly. Try to maintain daytime temperatures of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

After the seedlings have shown their first true leaves, you will want to transplant them to individual containers. Using the all-purpose potting mix, transplant into a 4-inch pot or container. Paper cups make a great container and are biodegradable. You just need to cut off the bottom of the cup prior to planting it in the garden. When transplanting, be careful to maintain as many of the seedling’s roots as possible.

Using a wooden pencil for a dibble, transplanting can be very easy. You can control the size of the hole for the transplant with the dibble. Gently pour in water to moisten the soil while keeping the seedling upright. Keep the transplants moist, but not wet. Lighting will also remain an important factor.

The major tip to keep in mind when sowing seeds: Don’t plant your seeds too early. Most people push for spring but this can be a disaster because the plants will get leggy, weak and won’t perform well in the garden. Always use the planting instructions on the seed package. Spring is only 10 weeks away. Try planting some of those little seeds indoors and you’ll reap great rewards.

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