Sow tomato seeds in the pots that the seedlings will grow in. Tomatoes grow quickly, so use a pint size or larger pot. In mid-April, sow 2 to 3 seeds in each pot about a quarter inch deep.
Keep in a warm area. Germination should occur in about five days. When second leaves appear, snip off all but the strongest sprout in each pot with scissors. Grow on the dry side, but don’t allow them to wilt.
Remove all but five or six leaves at the top of the plant, then put in the ground deep enough so that only six inches of stem are visible. Additional roots will form along the buried part of the stem, making the plant stronger.
Start lettuce indoors in early March. Put 2 to 3 seeds directly into a small pot on the surface of the medium. Do not cover. At a cool room temperature, seedlings should emerge in a couple of days.
Keep moist. Plant the entire clump outside in early April (lettuce plants can take quite a bit of frost).
Sow basil seeds in mid-March 1/16 inch deep. Keep in a warm area and the first seedlings should emerge in a couple of days.
Start marigold seeds in early March about 1/8 inch deep in the seed flat. Seedlings should emerge within a couple of days at room temperature.
Buy pelleted petunia seeds — they are much easier to handle. Un-pelleted petunia seeds are microscopic. Sow in mid-March on the surface of the seed flat. Do not cover. Keep in a warm area. Germination should occur within five days. Grow on the dry side.
Put the packet of snapdragon seeds in your freezer for a couple of days in early March, then sow on the surface of the medium in the seed flat. Do not cover. Kept in a warm area, the seedlings should emerge within five days.
Start zinnia seeds in early April about 1/8 inch deep in the seed flat. In a warm area, germination should occur within a couple of days.
A couple of rules for all seedlings
- Transplant into individual containers when second (“true”) leaves appear, holding each seedling by the leaves, not the stem.
- Keep the seedlings moist, but don’t drown them by overfilling the tray. Roots need air just as much as they need water.
- Adapt the seedlings to outside conditions (“hardening them off”) two weeks before planting outside. Give them only filtered shade initially, then gradually add more sunlight over a two week period. Then they’ll be ready for your beds or outdoor containers.
Growing plants from seeds can be rewarding, save you money, and is lots of fun. Give it a try.
Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Haywood County. For more information call the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575.