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Proctor's Garden: Treat your seedlings right

How you start seedlings depends on your particular situation. Whether you start them in six-packs or pots, take special care of them now.

DENVER — Seed growing is in high gear. Many gardeners have flats of seedlings growing on their windowsills, under lights or in their home greenhouses. 

I love my little greenhouse and I'm still learning how to get the most out of it. It's trial and error. 

One of my mostly successful experiments this year has been to change my seed-starting methods. I've added a step. Instead of starting individual seeds in the the cells of plastic four-packs or six-packs, I've been starting them in four-inch pots. These pots are easier to keep consistently moist as the seeds germinate. I think I'm getting better germination; if seeds dry out during the germination process, they're toast. I make it a point to spray them twice a day. 

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After the seedlings have grown a bit, I separate them and plant each one individually in the plastic six-pack cells. Pulling them apart takes patience and practice. Gently tease them apart with minimal damage to the roots. Avoid handling them by their stems. Handle them by their leaves or by the root ball. Fill soil in around the roots and water well. 

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How you start seedlings depends on your particular situation. Whether you start them in six-packs or pots, take special care of them now. There is still time to plant favorite flowers such as marigolds and zinnias, as well as vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. As they grow and temperatures warm, expose them to full sun gradually. 

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