Off To A Good Start

Last week I kicked off the 2012 seed starting season here at Happy Acres. I started seeds for arugula, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, Florence fennel, parsley and petunia. All but the petunia seeds went in a 288 cell plug flat. I like using plug flats when I am starting a lot of seeds at once, which is often the case with me.

200 cell plug flat (click on any image to enlarge)

I’m not a big fan of plastic, but it does serve its purpose when it comes to seed starting. It holds moisture well, can easily be sterilized, and if well taken care of the pots and flats can be used for several years. I’ve been using most of my plug flats for 5 years now, and I should be able to get several more years out of them.

seedlings in 288 cell plug flat

All these seedlings will be transplanted into larger pots or cell packs about 2-3 weeks after germination. The plug flats make it easy to get the seedlings out with minimal root disturbance, and it also saves me a lot of time.

cabbage seedlings at 3 days after germination

Some of the broccoli and cabbage seeds germinated in three days. All of the cabbage family, including kohlrabi, were up a couple of days later, as was the arugula. I’m still waiting on the fennel, parsley and petunia. Parsley is notoriously slow to germinate, often taking 2 or 3 weeks to show signs of life. The fennel should be up in another day or so.

broccoli seedling, with seed casing still attached

I started the petunias in 3.5″ square pots. The seeds need light to germinate, so I just put the pelleted seed on top of the soil and water it in using a spray bottle. For more information on growing petunias from seed, you can check out a post I did in 2010. This year I’m starting blue, red, purple and pink trailing varieties, though not all are Waves.

starting petunias from seed

I’ll be starting more vegetable and herb seeds in the weeks to come. I’ve got a great supply of overwintered salad greens and Asian greens growing in the cold frames and greenhouse, so I won’t need to start many of those just yet. My next big seed starting effort will be in March when I get the eggplants, peppers and tomatoes going. That’s when the fun really begins!

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10 Responses to Off To A Good Start

  1. I much prefer plastic plug trays too, for the same reason, they’re easy to clean. This reminds me though, I’m already two days behind seed on my tomato seed starting. I’m hoping to get the greenhouse organized today, pot up some seedlings already under way, and get those tomatoes sown!

  2. Peggy says:

    Dave, what medium do you use to start seeds? Do you do any container gardening? I’m asking because Scott’s Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil is my default for both, and the last unquestionably non-organic gardening thing I do. I like it because it doesn’t get dry and shed water, and plants grow well in it all season long.

    • Dave says:

      Peggy, good question – I meant to add that to my post. I use Pro-Mix BX, which comes in a 3.8 cubic feet compressed bale. Our local Master Gardener organization uses it for potting soil, and makes it available to members at a great price.

      It is a peat based potting mix (85-95%), that also has perlite, vermiculite and some nutrients. It performs much like the Miracle Grow seed starting mix. When transplanting and growing on, I use a Pro-Mix Ultimate Organic potting soil that I amend with some of our sifted compost.

      I normally use the same potting soil/compost mix for containers. I do grow many vegetables and some herbs in containers.

  3. Jody says:

    3 days! That’s quick. Your seedlings look very happy in their new home. The petunias needs are very unique. I’m learning more and more about the different environments various seeds need for germination.

  4. Bee Girl says:

    Everything looks great! Happy seed starting! 🙂

  5. Carla says:

    You must put in a lot of seedlings, that is a large tray you have there. I only start tomatoes, peppers, squash and a few others for my summer garden.

    Yours are very impressive!

  6. kitsapFG says:

    I am starting to use soil blocks for my seed starting but still have the cell packs that I am using for certain items and for the Giving Garden starts I am growing. I have to say that for ease and consistency the cell packs win hands down. I also rinse and reuse them but apparently am not as careful as you are because I only get 3 at most seasons out of any one tray before I get cracking etc. Your seedlings look great – happy start to the growing season!

  7. Aimee says:

    Congratulations! You are indeed off to a good start. I’ve been winter sowing, but haven’t been able to start anything indoor just yet. Looking forward to your March seed-starting posts!

  8. Norma Chang says:

    You must have a huge well laid out and well equipped green house. Your seedlings are so healthy and happy.
    Visited your “wild” garden but did not know how to leave a comment. Love the plantings and how it all come together so well. I am sure a geat deal of thoughts and planning went into making it so natural looking.
    You obviously do not have deer problem.

  9. Mike Adams says:

    We use they 72 plug trays. I like them because they offer a little extra growing room before needed transplanted. We transplant some crops 3 times before selling them or planting in the garden. I would love to see a picture of your growing setup someday. It is always interesting to see what everyone else is using.

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