STARTING SEED INDOORS
Starting seed indoors is a good way to get a jump start on the season. Some plants do not transplant well (poppies for one) so they are not good candidates for this but others will do quite well. Be sure to harden the plants off before transplanting them to the garden.
Use a good seed starter soil mixture ; Loose (operative word) sterile mixture of loam, peat moss, and sand. The goal is germination, not growth so the soil need not be to rich but does need to be loose. Commercial mixes are soooo easy to use!
Moisten the soil mixture and place your seed in the pots planting them very sparsely. Do not plant them too thickly (1/8in or more apart.) Barely cover them. Some very small seeds need only to be pressed into the soil. Water, not drown the seeds, misting is a good option or placing the posts in a shallow pan of water will insure that the seeds don’t just float. Cover the pots with glass or plastic wrap to keep it moist and a drying out may kill all your efforts. Place in an area that can be maintained at about 72degrees 24hours/day. Keep an eye on the pots and watch for fungus which occurs because of too much water or not enough air circulation. (I never said it was care free!!!!)
When you have sprouted apprx 90% of the seeds remove the glass/plastic covering and allow for air circulation ( a small fan is helpful, not directly on the plants) . Continue to keep the soil moist but do not over water or float the plants. Temperature can now be 55-60 at night. Keeping them too warm will cause them to grow too fast. The seedlings don’t need as much heat to grow as they do to germinate. Transplant outdoors as soon as possible to avoid letting them get leggy. Harden them off and transplant them on a cloudy day or in the evening.
STARTING HERBS INDOORS
Herbs can be tricky but very rewarding. Who doesn’t like fresh basil on home grown tomatoes? Herbs can be started indoors for those too impatient to wait or for those cooler climates with shorter growing seasons.
The number one rule: Don’t plant too thickly! Plant seeds in pots prepared with humus rich soil. Keep moist but not wet. After seedlings are well above the ground they can be transplanted into larger pots. Herbs like bright light so the best exposure will give you the best results. Basil in particular can be kept in pots outdoors all summer and brought back in for winter use. Be sure to harden the plants before placing them outside or transplanting them into the garden.
About Wild Flower Seeds
USDA Hardines Zones - http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
Annuals are flowers that typically live only one season. They germinate, grow and bloom and form seed all in one season. Annuals are usually quite colorful, grow quickly and bloom for several weeks before going to seed. Once seeds are formed and spread many will remain dormant and re-emerge the following year thus perpetuating themselves without having to be re-planted. The main disadvantage to this process is that you don't get to choose where the new plant will be! Most annuals are planted in the spring although some are frost hardy and can be planted in the fall. In more temperate climates many annuals will over winter and not actually die out. Tropical flowers such as zinnias, cosmos and marigolds usually bloom after the summer heat starts as they require warm if not hot conditions to get going. Cool weather annuals will bloom in early spring and die out in the heat, (Sweet Peas, Pansies, Chinese Forget Me Nots, Zinnias etc...). Many annuals make great cut flowers.
Perennials are the work horses of the garden. All gardeners and all formal gardens have them and they form the basic design of flower beds. Perennial flowers bloom year after year from the same root system. Once planted they remain in location and come back every year. Some Perennials will re-seed themselves and spread. Most have fairly long lives although some do not. It typically takes a perennial plant 2 years to grow a root system mature enough to produce flowers. If you plant a perennial seed this year you will not see the flowers until the following season. Some perennials can be planted in the fall and almost all in the spring. Many can be started indoors in pots and then transplanted outdoors once the soil has warmed. Unlike annuals, perennials typically do not bloom all season and it requires some planning to insure that something is always in bloom but once you figure that out your garden is maintenance free....well almost, what would we all do without weeding?????
Please let me know if I can help you further. Cheers!
AndreaFlower Art & Soul