The sun is shining, the snow is melting and we’re getting spring fever around here! We had the opportunity to hear a great presentation on seed starting from Renee DeJean of Lake Valley Seeds and we’re itching to get things growing. In case you missed the class, here are a few tidbits to catch you up:
1. Types of Seeds
DeJean spoke of three different types of seeds – genetically modified seeds, hybrid seeds and open pollinated seeds. Genetically modified seeds are sold by the ton to farmers for mass production and are not available to consumers. Hybrid seeds are a combination of seeds that produce well and seeds that can withstand the heat. Open pollinated seeds (including most heirloom seeds) self-pollinate. Different varieties of this kind need to be planted as far from one another as possible to avoid mutant vegetables.
2. Check the Seed Grade
Before planting any seeds from a variety package, be sure to check the back of the seed packet for the food grade. This code will let you know which seeds are from which vegetables so you can more accurately judge planting and maintenance.
3. Tomatoes Like the Heat
When planting tomatoes, start by growing the seeds indoors in a seed starter pot using seed mix soil. When buds start to pop up, bury them with another layer of soil to create a root system. When more of the plant begins growing, place them underneath a grow light system so they get enough heat. Finally, once the ground is warm enough – usually by the first week of June – transfer the tomato plants to a sunny area outside.
4. Know What Starts Outside
Unlike tomatoes, some vegetables are better off planted outside, rather than planted inside and then transferred once they begin growing. Zucchinis, cucumbers and pumpkins should all be planted in an outside garden from the beginning. Be sure to not plant them until after Mother’s Day to avoid damage from freezing temperatures.
5. The Hardy and the Fragile
Some vegetables can brave the cold better than others. As previously mentioned, tomatoes are very sensitive to cold, as are peppers. Peas should not be planted until after April 15 and must be protected from snow. Radishes, however, can withstand colder temperatures and some snow.
6. Protect Against Hungry Bunnies
The neighborhood bunnies and squirrels always seem to know when you’re growing something good. There are a few ways DeJean mentioned to ward off unwelcomed visitors. Using raised beds and fencing around your garden is probably the best method, but if that is not doable, lining your garden with rabbit repellent spray and – interestingly enough – human hair should do the trick as well.
Interested in learning more seed starting tips? Stop by Ace Hardware of Fort Collins and we’ll get you all squared away with the right seeds, equipment and knowledge to get your garden growing!