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  • Writer's pictureTracey Parriman

Now's the time to start thinking about seed starting!

One of things I look forward to the most over the winter is seed starting. There is something really fascinating about seeing life spring forward from just a tiny little seed. Growing healthy plants from seeds can be quite easy with just a little guidance.

I am going to share with you how we started our seeds indoors for many years before we built our seed starting greenhouse. This method will allow you to take a few square feet of your home and get an early start on your home garden.

In order to grow healthy transplants, I highly recommend investing in a grow light stand. This may sound fancy but you can make your own quite easily for around $50-$60 and it will last for years. There are also a lot of options for places you can order grow lights from online if you prefer.

To make the grow light stand very similar to the one that we have utilized in the past you will need to pickup the following supplies from the hardware store.

- Shop light fixture for two T-8 tubes (ready to use with power cord and pull switch)

- One T-8 Cool Light Bulb (sometimes sold in 2-packs)

- One T-8 Warm Light Bulb (sometimes sold in 2-packs)

- 10-ft. long, 1 ½ in. diameter pvc pipe

- (2) 1 ½ in. slip Tee

- (2) 1 ½ in. 90º elbow

- (4) 1 ½ in. end caps

Below is a link to a writeup from the University of Maryland Extension with more directions and pictures on how to assemble this PVC grow light stand.

This stand can hold two standard size professional growing flats which are sometimes referred to as 1020's. For growing indoors I recommend using some sort of tray liner with no holes in the bottom. This allows you to bottom water your seedlings as they grow.

If you are familiar with seed starting or shopping for transplants at the garden center then you may know that the number of spots in a plant tray are often referred to as cells. For us with growing on a large scale, it is not uncommon for us to be seeding 128 or 200 count cell trays. This means that we would ideally end up with that many plants all ready to go into the ground at the same time. Also, the larger the cell count the smaller the spot is for the seedling to grow. For a home gardener, I would recommend either 4 or 6 count cell packs. This allows you to grow 4 or 6 of the same plant and the plants should be fairly sizable when they are ready to be transplanted outside into the garden, landscape or a pot. I typically do not recommend mixing different types of plants in the same cell pack because they may have different rates of germination and growth.

For more detailed information regarding this topic, we have saved a video in our Instagram highlights. There you can learn more about our experience with using a grow light.

In the upcoming weeks we will be sharing the best methods of starting seeds but in the meantime I encourage you to start dreaming up your 2021 garden! Although it is still a little too early to start any summer plants that are susceptible to frost, now is the time to start looking at seed catalogs and planning for the season to come. We typically have the majority of our seeds ordered in fall so we are ready come spring for early planting. Luckily, there is still plenty of time to figure out what you would like to grow this year and I am still finding myself looking at more seeds to order (I might be a seed addict). For most of the things we plant into our spring gardens, it is best to wait until 4-6 weeks from the last frost date to start your seeds. For where we are located in Ohio, our last frost date is typically right around the middle of May. Therefore, we typically start our summer annual blooming flowers indoors (such as zinnias, cosmos, celosia, etc) around the beginning of April.

What are you planning to grow this year? Whatever it may be we wish you luck and hope that you find this information helpful.

Happy Gardening!

Tracey Rae

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