Tips For Successful Fall Seeding
Starting plants in your garden from seed and watching them grow is one of the most satisfying parts of gardening. However, planting seeds is not as easy as it looks, and can be something very frustrating for gardeners. Seeds require proper moisture, oxygen, and soil temperature to start germinating.
Choosing Your Seeds
When picking seeds, do your research on what conditions that seed grows best in. Check your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone to see what plants do best in your area. There are two different broad categories of seeds – seeds that prefer warmer temperatures and seeds that prefer cooler temperature. Types of warm weather seeds are cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and beans. These seeds need warm soil and warm temperatures to grow. Examples of seeds that prefer cooler temperatures are lettuce, peas, carrots and cabbage.
Methods of Planting
Many gardeners choose to start their seeds indoors or start growing them directly out in the garden. Personal preference and the types of seeds you choose will factor into which method you choose.
A benefit to planting seeds indoors is that you can get a jumpstart on your garden because you can plant them much sooner than you could outdoors. However, it will take up space in your home and can be time consuming. Generally, most warm weather seeds and ones that have a long growing season will grow better when started indoors.
A benefit to starting your seeds directly in the garden is that you just need to plant once, there’s no transplanting. However, your seeds will be exposed to the elements and you will have to wait until your soil is ready. Starting seeds directly in your garden is a good method for seeds that prefer cooler temperatures, root crops like carrots, and quick growing warm weather seeds.
How to Plant Your Seeds
When planting, the amount of light is crucial. If growing indoors make sure to put plants in a sunny, south-facing window. The next important piece to have successful growing seeds is timing. Seeds should be started about 12 weeks before your first fall frost date. About now is the perfect time to start planting for warm weather crops. Broccoli, kale and cauliflower tend to do better when started indoors. For plants that prefer cooler temperatures like lettuce and radishes, you can typically plant those directly in your garden into late September.
When starting, you want to plant in loose, slightly moist soil. When planting, tiny seeds can be sprinkled over the top of the soil, but plant bigger seeds twice as deep as it is wide. Press the seeds into the soil, then cover the seed with dirt, and gently pack it down. Then water! Watering is very important to ensure your seeds grow into healthy plants. You want to keep the soil moist and not soggy. Soggy soils will be depleted of oxygen, which is also essential to successful plant establishment When watering use a mister or a small watering can, and let the soil dry slightly between waterings. Be careful to not let the seeds dry out. Investing in a soaker hose is a good way to make sure your plants are being watered just right.
To keep your soil and seedlings healthy you can add in fertilizer. The choice is up to you depending on preference, location, and specifications. Periods without water can prevent germination or spell certain doom for young sensitive seedlings rendering all your hard work useless, and leaving you with that same bare ground that you started with. Having said that, it is worth your time to provide yourself with a bit of insurance. Moisture management products are used to maximize water use efficiency within the soil. One class of water management products called hygroscopic humectants, work like tiny water magnets that draw water molecules together to convert unavailable moisture in the soil into plant-usable water droplets. These products are not a complete replacement for watering, but they will help your plants thrive for longer periods between watering cycles.
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