SOURCE: Gardener's Supply

Gardener's Supply

February 08, 2011 10:09 ET

With Above Average Snow and Cold Gardener's Supply Sees High Interest in Seedstarting

Seedstarting Gives Hope of Spring

BURLINGTON, VT--(Marketwire - February 8, 2011) - With snow, ice and cold hitting every state, seedstarting is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. According to Gardener's Supply, a national online gardening retailer, more consumers and avid gardeners are either seedstarting for the first time or advancing their existing seedstarting operations.

"Seedstarting provides a much needed recharge when it's snowy and cold outside. We've noticed a significant increase in consumers wanting to either try seedstarting or elevate their capability with new equipment and lights," said Maree Gaetani, director of gardening relations. "The calls and questions to our 1-800 help line have ranged from 'how do I start' to more complicated questions about heat mats and grow lights.

"There are many benefits to indoor seedstarting," continued Gaetani. "Not the least of which are bragging rights when you've harvested a tomato or enjoyed summer blooms from plants you've started with seeds."

Seedstarting with the right seeds and tools is easy and rewarding. Here are 10 steps along with a few invaluable tools that make seedstarting simple and successful:

1. CHOOSE SEEDS WISELY - If you're new to seed starting, stick with easy to grow vegetables and flowers such as tomato, cucumber, basil, squash, morning glories, bachelor buttons, calendula and cosmos. Learn more about when to start seeds at www.gardeners.com. Don't start your seeds too early. Find the last expected frost date in your area and count back from that date based on the seed packet recommendations to determine when to start seeds indoors. Starting too early will create monster plants that need to be tamed because the outdoor environment isn't ready for them yet.

2. THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT - You can start seeds in just about any container, provided it's sturdy and allows for water drainage. However, for foolproof seedstarting, a system like the award-winning Accelerated Propagation System (APS) takes the guess work out of seed starting. The APS Starter Kit contains enough equipment to start 48 plants. The styrofoam trays come with a capillary mat and water reservoir for easy bottom watering and a clear plastic dome to keep the air warm and moist.

3. START WITH THE RIGHT ORGANIC MIX - For best success, use a seed starting mix that contains peat moss and vermiculite. These ingredients provide a medium that holds moisture, drains water, and is light enough to germinate and grow even small seeds such as pansies.

4. THE RIGHT LIGHT - Even though starting seeds in a sunny southern window may work in some climates, a surer bet is to have an indoor, seedstarting light system. Most seeds don't need light to germinate, but once up, they need 12 to 14 hours of continuous full spectrum, bright light to grow strong and sturdy. Gardener's Supply only uses T-5 bulbs that emit brilliant, full-spectrum light, providing the ideal intensity and quality of light needed for optimal plant growth. The bulbs last up to 7,500 hours and use 45 percent less energy than standard fluorescent bulbs. If you only have a small space for seed starting, consider the Garden Starter Kit or the Tabletop Light Garden. The latter can hold up to 170 seedlings.

5. TEMPERATURE - Most seedlings germinate and grow best with air and soil temperatures between 60F and 80F. The soil temperature is actually more important than the air temperature. The right soil temperature will accelerate germination making seedlings less likely to die from disease. To keep soil warm for quickest germination, place seedlings on the top of a refrigerator or use Soil Heating Cables or a Root Zone Heat Mat. Place your trays or pots on top of the waterproof cable or mat to keep the soil at a constant 70F to 75F. Once germinated, keep the air temperatures around seedlings between 60F and 70F. This will enable seedlings to grow slow and strong, helping to prevent leggy, weak stems.

6. WHAT TO DO ONCE THE SEEDS COME UP - Once the true leaves form you'll need to thin the seedlings in the pot to one per container. Do not pull out the thinned seedling by hand, use scissors to snip them off at the soil line. The Never-Dull Extra-Long Scissors are especially good for snipping tiny seedling stems without harming other seedlings.

7. WATERING - It's important to keep the soil consistently moist as seedlings germinate and grow. Watering from above often displaces seeds and creates divots in the soil resulting in poor germination. A better method is to bottom-water the seedlings. Through a natural capillary action, water will moisten the seed starting soil mix -- this is another good reason to use the APS Seedstarting Kits.

8. FERTILIZING - Once the true leaves emerge, seedlings need a gentle fertilizer to grow strong. It's important to use a fertilizer specific to seedlings that will not cause root burn or force them to grow too fast. Fertilize weekly until the plants are ready for moving outdoors. Plant Health Care for Seedlings is recommended for this process. 

9. TRANSPLANTING - Cowpots are perfect for transplanting seedlings -- once they're ready for the garden, you can just plant the biodegradable Cowpots. However, for most plants started in smaller (2 inch diameter or less) pots such as the Gardener's Supply APS Kits, you'll need to transplant them into pots one size larger while still indoors to keep the seedlings growing strong. 

10. TIME TO PLACE IN THE GARDEN - Don't rush your healthy, tender seedlings into the wind and weather; they need time to adjust to the outside environment. You can harden off seedlings by placing them outdoors for one hour in shade for the first day. Increase the amount of time outdoors each day, eventually moving seedlings into a sunny location. By the end of a week you can leave them outdoors safely overnight. At this point they're ready for transplanting into containers or the garden to grow, flower, fruit, and flourish.

For answers to your seedstarting and other gardening questions, call 1-800-955-3370 or visit Gardener's Supply online to read more articles and learn more about their patented products.

Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Maree Gaetani
    802-660-3500 x 5925
    Email Contact