In the Garden:
Lower South
January, 2013
Regional Report

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Starting your own transplants is a great way to try out less common species or cultivars like these new types of coneflowers.

Tips for Growing Great Transplants

Growing your own transplants is fun and an economical way to begin a vegetable or flower garden. It also allows you to expand your choice of species and cultivars beyond what may be available as transplants in your area. Although some plants such as root vegetables are not suitable for transplanting, most others can be started indoors as transplants for their garden debut several weeks later when the weather allows.

Here are a few tips to help grow healthy transplants that are ready to hit the ground running when they are set out in the garden.

Schedule Planting Time
Consult an online reference for the time required from seed to transplant size. Then count backward from the planting date and make a note on your gardening calendar as a reminder. I like to allow an extra week or so as I can always move them to a larger container if they grow fast.

Use New Seed Starting Media
Seedlings are susceptible to diseases that will destroy them quickly. Avoid such problems by using a fresh, new seed starting media and new seed trays. If you want to reuse trays dip them in a 10% bleach solution prior to reuse.

Get a Head Start
Soak tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds in warm water overnight. They will start to take in water and initiate the germination process faster. This is okay to do for any seeds with the exception of very tiny seeds, which are easiest to separate and plant while dry.

Don't Let Them Dry Out
Once germination begins don't allow the seeds to dry out or they will die. The media can dry out quickly, especially if containers are on a heating mat. After the seeds are established they are better able to recover from a brief dry period.

Keep the Temperature Right
Consult the seed packet or other reference for the recommended germination temperature. About 75 degrees is good for most species. If you don't have special warming mats or cables for seed starting, the top of the refrigerator is a good place to set seeded trays until the seeds start to sprout.

Provide Plenty of Light
Bright light equals stocky seedling. Low light results in spindly, weak plants. Supplement your indoor seedlings with grow lights set just a few inches above the growing plants and left on for 14-16 hours a day.

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