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Proctor: Plan now for seed starting

10:15 AM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Growing plants from seed is all about timing.

The first step is to make sure you have the equipment. Plastic trays, clear covers and six pack cells can be used again from year to year. Wash them out in hot water or run them through the dishwasher.

Seeds from last year may still be viable if they were stored in a dry, cool dark place. The real fun is buying new seeds. Some people still enjoy old-fashioned seed catalogues, while others prefer to order online or browse at garden centers. Now is the time to shop for seeds so you get what you want.

Most all seeds may be started indoors in a sunny window or under lights. The exceptions are annuals like California poppy or vegetables such as carrots, peas, radish, beets and beans. These are best sown directly in the ground. Any sterile potting soil is fine but seed starting mixtures are ideal.

The trick is to follow the instructions exactly. If you haven't had much experience with growing from seed, try something like oat grass for your cats. It is easy to sprout on the windowsill and will build your confidence. Larger seeds are covered a bit deeper by soil, while tiny ones are just pressed lightly into the soil.

A seed packet contains many tips. The most important is the "when to start" information. Check each packet for the best time to start indoors. Some might say "6 to 8 weeks before last frost" or other time intervals. Subtract back from the average lost frost in your area--the Front Range is May 10--and you will know when to plant.

If you start too early, plants may get leggy before they can safely go outside. If you start too late, they may take too long to mature. Not every batch will be perfect; mine rarely are. With practice, however, you can stretch your gardening budget by growing hundreds of plants for a small investment in seeds.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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