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It’s seed starting time

By Sheri Bethard

Certified Texas Master Gardener, Orange County Master Gardeners

 

If you haven’t already started your seeds for your spring garden, now is the time to do so. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the last frost date for Orange, 77630, is March 10. 

But, as we all know the way the weather has been lately it could be the end of February or the end of March. 

So, to get a jump start on your spring planting season, most avid gardeners start their seeds indoors or in a greenhouse if you are lucky to have one. 

For you first-timers, I am going to give you some suggestions for starting your seeds inside so when the temperature starts stabilizing towards the warm side you will be able to plant your seedlings in your garden. 

You will need small pots of some kind. You can use old garden pots as long as you have cleaned them in a one-part bleach/nine-parts water solution after removing any old soil or using a cleaner product that kills germs and bacteria. If you don’t have small garden pots, you can use old egg cartons, small cups, toilet paper, and paper towel rolls or you can purchase the peat pots or the seeding trays from one of the local garden centers.

A list of some common seeds with their light and temperature requirements. For a more complete list you can check our website at https://txmg.org/orange/seed-germination-chart/

For your soil, you should use a mix specially made for starting seeds. It is light, holds moisture and lets airs go through the media. If you want to make your own, you can sift peat and mix with vermiculite at a 50/50 ratio. Before filling your containers, wet the media until you can squeeze it together, forms a ball but water does not run out. 

Now, you are ready for planting your seeds. Most all the seed packages say to cover the seeds with at least ¼ inch of soil/media. Following these instructions, you have found in the past your seeds haven’t come up. It is very possible; your seeds should not have been covered up. Most seeds need light to germinate so covering with soil/media will stop germination. There are some seeds that do need the dark for germination. 

In addition to the proper light or dark for various seeds, most need at least 70 degrees F. to germinate. So, if you are doing this indoors, on top of your refrigerator or freezer might be a good spot as they might get some bottom heat from the top of the unit. Or you could purchase a plant heating mat to handle the heat for you. Most heating mats run from about $20 on up and will raise the temperature about 10 degrees above what it is around the mat. Thermostats can be added to control the temperatures at an added cost. Be sure to keep the media moist by watering from the bottom.

If you need any additional information, please call our Hotline Tuesday or Thursday 10 a.m. –  2 p.m. at -82-7010, thru our Facebook page Orange County Texas Master Gardeners or our website https://txmg.org/orange 

Our Annual Bloomin’ Crazy Plant Fair will be held Saturday, March 14, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Cormier Park, 8235 FM 1442 or drop by our monthly meeting held the second Thursday of the month at the Orange County EXPO Center starting at 6 p.m. with a potluck supper and a business meeting at 6:30 p.m., most months with a speaker. Our next Master Gardener certification class starts April 2, 6 p.m. for more information check our website.