Get Growing with Culbac® Seed Treatments
As the days grow longer and chill of winter fades away, gardening enthusiasts such as myself become more anxious to return outdoors and fill their empty containers and bare plots with seedlings that will someday produce bright blooms or a plump tomato. While many seek out their new stock at local nurseries and garden centers, others—myself included—will grow their transplants from seed.
Over the years, I have found that starting plants from seed is not only a fun hobby but also one that offers growers many advantages over purchasing stock from nurseries.
These benefits include:
- Expense: Seed packets, of course, are much less expensive than seedlings. The savings will only increase with the number of seedlings grown versus seedlings bought.
- Cultivar Selection: Generally, gardeners will find a much wider range of cultivars available as seed rather than as seedlings. This enables us to select the cultivars with the most suitable combination of growth habit, yield and disease resistance for our area.
- Satisfaction: It should come as no surprise that growing your own plants, like growing your own food, is more rewarding than buying these items off the shelf.
So what does a gardener need to grow their own seedlings? The following is a checklist of some basic items:
- Growing media: Although seed-starting mixes are available commercially, almost any quality potting soil will suffice.
- Containers: The most important factor for containers is finding an appropriate size, which is determined by exactly what is to be grown in them and for how long. A large fast-growing seedling (for example, a cucumber or melon) can quickly outgrow a small container while large containers mean fewer seedlings can be grown in a given area. Aside from size, gardeners can choose between containers made of plastic or peat, store-bought or homemade. The latter can be devised from empty milk cartons or yogurt cups with a hole poked through the bottom to allow for drainage. Remember to sanitize containers that are being reused.
- Heat mat: Many vegetable and flower seeds germinate best in soil that is consistently above 70° F. For optimal germination, growers may find it helpful to place a heat mat under their trays to encourage uniform sprouting and robust root development.
- Grow lights: While seedlings can sometimes be successfully reared in northern climates on a south-facing windowsill, more reliable results can be achieved through the use of grow lights. Any fluorescent light fixture, as long as it is positioned 4 – 6 inches above the seedlings’ foliage, is adequate to produce healthy, stout transplants indoors.
Even with this equipment, most seedlings will find our homes to be rather stressful environments. When compared to a greenhouse, the humidity in the average home is much lower and the temperature is much cooler. In order to help my seedlings through the indoor doldrums of early spring, I treat them with CULBAC® Green Dry Seed Treatment just prior to planting.
CULBAC® seed treatments combine the growth-promoting qualities of seaweed extract with the abiotic effect of stimulating beneficial soil microbes. The results are homegrown seedlings that show no stress or shortcomings compared to those grown in a commercial greenhouse. For example, these pepper seedlings, after spending weeks growing indoors and in my coldframe, are thriving in their less-than-perfect environment.
Although CULBAC® seed treatments are available in liquid and dry forms, I prefer CULBAC® Green Dry Seed Treatment for simplicity of application. When planting, I simply “dust” the seeds with a coating of CULBAC® Green Dry Seed Treatment and then insert them into the growing medium. The image below shows my very basic set up for treating melon seeds prior to sowing.
CULBAC® Green Dry Seed Treatment.
The dark powder in the small plastic tray at lower left is—you guessed it—CULBAC® Green Dry Seed Treatment.
A final tip for seed-starting is to keep a record of your planting activities: sowing dates, transplanting dates, any seedling failures and so on. This will provide you with a guide to help you with your future plantings—especially with timing as this can vary by environmental conditions and even growing media.
This spring, as you’re waiting for the weather to turn favorable outside, get busy inside starting your own seedlings … and let CULBAC® seed treatments help you on the path to gardening success.
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