Selecting and starting seeds indoors

Starting seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start on your spring garden.

The frigid north winds swirling outside makes it a great time for avid and new gardeners to take advantage of the warm indoors and dream about the warm spring thaw. As you pour over seeds catalogs filled with all of your old favorites and tempting new varieties, consider what you can accomplish now.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to start by creating a gardening journal or take advantage of one of the handy new gardening apps on your smartphone or tablet. Fill it with pictures, seed catalog entries and other plant information that will get you in the gardening mood. Make notes on planting dates, germination rates and the number of days to maturity.

If you are thinking about starting your seeds indoors, you may want to consider using bottom heat for better germination rates. Many seedlings will appreciate the added warmth, aiding in germination for those slow starters. One way to accomplish this is to place your seedling flat on a heat source, such as a coil of rope lights that can be found in the outdoor lighting section of your local garden center. Use the incandescent type rope and place your flats on the loosely coil rope. These light ropes are made for the outdoors, so you do not need to worry about dripping water. When you start seedling indoors, remember to keep them evenly watered, but not soaked and make sure they have adequate light. A bright sunny window, florescent lights with a blue and green spectrum or common cool white house hold lights work well.

Remember to do your homework to understand each seeds germination requirements. Some need light and some need to be in the dark to germinate. Another finicky thing about seeds is how deeply they like to have their soil cover. Take into consideration the needs of your seeds and you will be well on your way to a successful gardening season.

Here are a couple of resources to get you started. Happy planting!

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