Mid-Atlantic

March, 2010
Regional Report

Experiment with Old Seed for Microgreens

Maggie Oster's Feb. 25 NGA column (Upper South) about growing microgreens prompted this idea for using old seed. I have two boxes of old and older seeds. I can't bare to toss them. Well, maybe some will go on the compost pile or to the red wigglers. I won't plant them in the garden - wasted work and space if they don't grow. Sprouting certain varieties indoors now as micro-greens - herbs, lettuces, spring mix, peas - is an excellent opportunity. If they germinate, I'll have delicious, super-nutritious greens. If the seeds aren't viable, no loss. To the good, there'll be less clutter in the seed boxes - more room for this year's seeds!

A Little Can Go A Long Way

Three primroses for $2.50! Look for nature's small treasures to bring spring into your space. I spotted this bargain at a local produce store. The longer-stemmed Japanese primrose (Primula japonica) are among my favs. Three pots of tall, colorful flowers now sit on my bright kitchen windowsill - one fuschia between two yellows - beside the reblooming moth orchid - from another discount shelf months ago. They simply make me smile.

Store Open Seed Packets Carefully

Many of us don't use every seed immediately after we open the packet. It's important to keep the remaining seeds dry though, because moisture activates germination. I seal the open packet edge closed with cellophane tape, then put the packet in a zip-lock type plastic bag. I add as many packets as will fill the bag. Before sealing, I slip in a dessicant pack recycled from a vitamin bottle. Some gardeners add rice grains instead to absorb any incidental moisture.

Investigate the Latest Tools and Gardening Materials

Technology is making gardening easier, safer, more economical and energy efficient. For example, for growing seedlings there's a new florescent lamp - T5 - that's demonstrated an energy savings of 45% over the standard T12 florescent lamps. The T5 also provides more light (95% of its original lumens) for up to 8,000 hours. That compares to the T12's 75% light output over time. New, improved types of pruners, pest control products, electric-powered tools and ergonomic hand tools are available. Try before you buy. How do the pruners and tools feel in your hands? In many cases, change is in the gardener's favor.

Use Two Heating Mats to Start Seeds - Top and Bottom

Heating mats are designed to be under the seed pack tray. They raise the temperature of the seed-starting soilless mix to 60 to 70 degrees. That's warm enough to encourage the germination of many kinds of seeds. I've been hastening seed sprouting more by placing another heating mat on top of the seed tray. Of course, I remove the top mat as soon as new sprouts emerge.

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