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How To Jumpstart Your Spring Garden With Starter Seedlings

Hi. This is Lee Newton with Lyndale Plant Service, a professional exterior plant design service in Minneapolis, and I’m going to start some seeds today. Start off with your specified seed mixture. It’s a little finer than regular potting mix. You want to make it wet enough that it clumps together a little bit. And then, you just fill your cells -- these little things are called cells, cell packs.

So, I’ve got most of it filled. I’m just going to top it off here. And it’s good to get your hands dirty, because it’s winter. So, what we’re going to do here, I’m going to plant some alyssum today. Alyssum is so wonderful and sweet smelling. These are tiny, tiny, tiny seeds.

When you look at your seed packets, it’s going to tell you how long to expect it ‘til it germinates, when it can go outside. So, here in Minnesota, let’s say something is going to be ready in 12 weeks, if you take 12 weeks past our last frost date you get the preferred planting time.

Now, alyssum can take a little coolness, so these will be the first things that go outside in my yard this year. These are very, very fine seeds. So, what I’m going to do is more like a broad cast seeding, where I’m just going to sprinkle them on top of the surface of the soil. They barely need to be covered, so I’ll sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle. And then I’ll add some cover back on top, a little bit of this stuff.
And again, the back of your seed packet will say whether it needs to be covered, how deep it needs to be planted. And then, I like to just water that in by using a little spray bottle.

Another seed I’m going to start today is bachelor buttons. Now, bachelor buttons, this is probably why I am a gardener. These are what I fell in love with as a kid. They’re a larger seed. So, this way I can make sure I get one or two in each little cell pack. The thing about bachelor buttons is they don’t like the heat in Minnesota after it starts to get humid.

So, the secret is to start them in the house. Start them early, and get them out there as soon as you can. It’s another plant. And you can see I’m just sprinkling them on the soil. I’m going to push them in a little bit, because these like to have a quarter inch cover.

But, this is a plant that also can take some cooler temperatures. You can get it outside in the spring before you could, say, a pansy -- not a pansy, a petunia, pardon me. Just sprinkle them on. Then I’m going to put a little bit on top, and push it in to cover it. Because, like I said, it wants a quarter inch cover on these.

Now, the secret to getting these to bloom as fast as possible before our summers get hot -- they’re a long-day plant. They like 14 hours of sun minimum before they set their bud, they initiate their bud. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to put these under lights 14 hours a day when they’re about an inch or so high. That way, when I get them outside they’re already going to be ready to initiate their bloom, and they’re going to bloom until our hot summers take them out.

So, seeds are easy to start. The key: know when to start them, and that information will be on the back of your packet. Keep them under light. This plastic that I’m putting over it now keeps the soil moist until those little seedlings come up. Some plants like it warm, some plants don’t. If you need a warm environment you can buy a heating mat that you put underneath.

And when they start to come up, you can take this off, put them under lights, and you’re going to have a little garden growing right in your home.

Now, what I’m going to do here, when they get to be a certain height I will transplant them out into a larger size, pot them up before I harden them off outside. So, be sure to check back and see how that process works.

So, plant some seeds, get your hands dirty, it’s winter, we’ve got to do something to keep from going crazy. I hope you enjoy this. If you haven’t planted seeds before, it’s never too late to start.

Lyndale Plant Services

301 W 92nd St,
Bloomington, MN 55420

(952) 345-8240

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