Many gardeners start seeds indoors this time of year in order to make the most of the growing season. This is especially important in states such as South Dakota, where the soil is likely to still be cold in Spring. Starting certain flowers and vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers indoors can help ensure an early harvest and robust yields. The practice of seed starting isn’t terribly difficult, but Julie Hoffmann of East River Nursery says there are a few things newcomers should keep in mind.
Soil– You can’t just go in the backyard and dig up black dirt for your indoor beds, Hoffmann says. You will need a light weight soil mix ,that includes peat moss, to help the seeds germinate properly. These more aerated soils help seeds develop quickly.
Fertilizer– There isn’t much fertilizer in soil mixes so it is vital to feed indoor plants once a week. Hoffmann encourages gardeners to use a liquid fertilizer, but not until the first true leaves appear on the plants.
Temperature– Hoffmann keeps the germination chambers at East River Nursery at 65-70 degrees. Once they come out of the chamber, they are kept at 55-60 degrees in the greenhouse. Since our homes are kept much warmer in the winter months, it is important to keep seedlings cool when they begin to come up. Hoffmann says many gardeners will start seeds in the basement, using supplemental light.
Supplemental Light– Seedlings can become spindly and be more susceptible to disease without adequate light. Hoffmann suggests using a regular flourescent light fixture to provide supplemental light. East River Nursery carries special plant light bulbs that have the right radiance to keep plants sturdy.
Watering-Gardeners must keep the pants moist while they are germinating. However, it is important not to over do it. Hoffmann recommends misting to avoid over watering.
East River Nursery not only has the supplies you need but can also offer advice. Call Julie at 352-4414, if you have questions about indoor seed starting.