Staff Photo by Karen Nazor Hill/Chattanooga Times Free Press This Jiffy Professional Greenhouse includes peat pots for germinating and growing seeds indoors. Get seeds at local garden stores or online catalogs.
Jump-start spring gardening by planting seeds now.
“Starting your seeds inside this time of year makes spring come a little earlier,” said Michael Payne, a Tennessee master gardener. “It gives you many more plant options.”
Peruse seed catalogs or visit a local gardening store to choose vegetables or flowers you want to grow.
“Starting seeds indoors can be very fun for you and your family,” Payne said. “There are lots of small greenhouse kits, or you can contact the [Chattanooga Area] Food Bank about their seed-starting classes. Either way you will be getting a head start and having fun.”
Once you’ve made your selection, Payne offers the following tips on growing plants from seeds.
1 No matter what type of container (tray or pot) you have, start with sterile potting/starter soil. This gives your seedlings the best chance to grow and not get hit with a fungus.
2 Keep the soil damp, not wet. Adding plastic wrap as a tent will help hold the moisture in, like a small greenhouse (or use a greenhouse kit). Leave until small leaves appear.
3 Place the container in a warm place out of the sunlight, such as on the top of the refrigerator. This will keep each seed warm and allow for quicker germination.
4 Watch seedlings closely. Once the leaves appear, move the container into the sunlight. The seedlings need the sunlight to grow. Turn the container every few days to make the stems strong.
5 When the weather warms, move the containers outdoors so plants can adjust to outside temperatures. Acclimation is important to keep plants from going into shock.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...
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