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Tips and Tricks for Starting Seeds
  
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Savvy Gardening news, Winter 2014
Savvy News: March 10, 2015

Seed Starting Simplified

Grow from seed with Savvy Gardening!


Seeds are such amazing little things. Wrapped up in a protective seed coat is not only an embryonic plant (including its first leaves and initial root), but also enough food for the newly germinated seedling to survive until it's big enough to acquire nutrients on its own. Seeds that have been lying dormant for years are capable of germinating and growing when, at long last, they are exposed to the right dormancy-breaking conditions. Seeds are proof of nature's brilliance.
 
Because each and every seed holds a perfect little life, there is great potential within each one of them – a simple fact that all gardeners cherish. If you've ever grown a plant from seed, you know how satisfying it is to see it reach maturity. In today's newsletter, we offer our best tips and techniques for successfully starting seeds for this year's gardening season. Grow on! 
 

    10 Great Ways to Grow From Seed

Here at Savvy Gardening, we're getting ready for spring's arrival by starting our own seeds indoors under lights. We've compiled a list of our top 10 favorite articles on the subject, all written by our Savvy contributors. Click the links to discover some awesome new ways to get growin'! 

Starting Seeds Indoors - Part 1
Starting Seeds Indoors - Part
How to Disinfect Seed-Starting Equipment
Seed Starting in 12 Easy Steps
Using Peat Pots vs. Cell Packs
E
asiest Seeds to Start Indoors
The B
est Vegetables to Grow from Seed
Test Old Seeds for Viability
Great Tools for Seed Starting
S
tarting Seeds for Fall Harvests
 

Quick Tips for Indoor Seed Starting


1. If you're starting seeds under lights, purchase new fluorescent tubes every two years. The bulbs can lose quite a bit of intensity as they age, and they can easily get covered in light-blocking dust. There is no need to purchase special “grow lights” for seed starting; they are necessary only if you want the plant to come into flower. The bulbs should be positioned 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) above the plant tops. Any higher, and the plants will grow leggy as they reach for the light. Put the lights on chains and raise them by small increments as the plants grow.

2. Set-up a fan to blow over the tops of newly started seedlings for a few hours two times a day. An oscillating fan set on a timer for two hours in the morning and two hours in the late afternoon does the trick. As the air blows over the plants and causes them to vibrate, their stems are strengthened. It keeps the seedlings stockier and cuts down on fungal issues by increasing the air circulation around the plants.

3Fertilize seedlings as soon as they develop their first true leaves. Use a liquid organic fertilizer – diluted to half the recommended rate – every one to two weeks. One favorite liquid fertilizer for seedlings is liquid kelp or seaweed because it's rich in micronutrients, trace nutrients, and plant hormones.
 

Notes from the Garden 


Savvy's expert on flower power, Tara Nolan, is making it her mission to cover the world with milkweed! Learn why sowing seeds of this plant is so important.


Rather than purchasing commercial potting soil to start her seeds, Amy Andrychowicz, Savvy's budget-friendly gardening guru, makes her own seed-starting mix. Here's her easy-to-make recipe. 
 


Niki Jabbour, our veggie-growing expert, starts seeds indoors for dozens of different vegetable and flower varieties each year. Here's her advice on using grow lights versus growing seedlings on a sunny windowsill


Savvy's horticulturist and insect expert, Jessica Walliser, makes it a priority to start seeds every year for plants that support the wildlife in her garden. Here are the plants she recommends growing for the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds
 

Vegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! Niki Jabbour, Savvy Gardening contributor and author of the best-selling The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, has collected 73 plans for novel and inspiring food gardens from her favorite superstar gardeners, including Amy Stewart, Amanda Thomsen, Barbara Pleasant, Dave DeWitt, and Jessi Bloom. You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more. Each plan is fully illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the story behind the design, and a plant list. For more info, or to purchase a copy, click here

Savvy Gardening: Cultivating Curiosity and Confidence


Until next time,
Amy Andrychowicz, Niki Jabbour, Tara Nolan, and Jessica Walliser
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