MASTER GARDENER – Seed germination key for spring garden preparation – Orange Leader

MASTER GARDENER – the key to seed germination to prepare your spring garden

Released at 12:02 am on Thursday, December 29, 2022

Well, winter is here. What a dramatic arrival! Gardeners, take a look at the seed and gardening catalogs that have been piling up over the past few months to make the most of these chilly days.

Seed catalogs are full of detailed and useful information, reading them gives you the opportunity to learn about new plant (seed) varieties available and decide if they are right for your garden. It is useful for

Each spring I prefer to grow most of my vegetables from seeds selected from the many seed catalogs. I personally like to grow a few varieties of tomatoes and peppers that are not available locally.

For tomato seeds, my all-time favorite seed catalog is Totally Tomatoes. The catalog also includes pepper and other vegetable seed varieties, but the main focus is on tomato growers.

They literally have hundreds of tomato varieties, from heirlooms to amazing new hybrids, most of which are well suited to our SETX growing environment. They need to be ordered quickly, and seed vendors sell out quickly, but they also need time to start the germination process in preparation for spring planting.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the date of the last frost for SETX (in the Jefferson/Orange County area) is February 29th. It takes weeks in surrounding cities due to ever-changing weather patterns.

My point is, if you choose to plant cold-hardy vegetables early, have supplies for that on hand and be prepared to cover the plants! (including me) start sowing seeds indoors or in a greenhouse.

Germinating seeds into plants is economical, as plants are always much more expensive to purchase. , it is easy to back calculate the number of weeks required for outdoor transplanting. In most cases, 8-12 weeks.

Some types of seedlings need small pots to germinate, and it’s always a good idea to be environmentally conscious and upcycle old plant pots. Thoroughly clean the pot using a mild bleach solution that dries.

The sterilized container is now ready to be filled with the purchased inert seed-soil mixture. The soil mix must be very lightweight with the ability to retain moisture while still allowing air flow into the soil, so using a specially made soil mix for seed initiation is a good idea. Best. Fill each container and tap to remove air pockets. The pot is ready for seeding.

Seed packages have detailed planting instructions, and most say to cover the seeds with at least 1/4 inch of soil. CAUTION – It is often the case that seeds will not germinate properly or only a few seeds will germinate if these instructions are followed.

It is possible, and very likely, that the seeds should not be covered with soil. Many seeds require light to germinate, so covering them with soil will prevent germination. Many seeds require darkness to germinate.

The amount of light or dark will greatly affect germination and the temperature should be in the range of 60-70°F. Find a warm spot such as the top of your refrigerator or freezer to provide bottom heat for your seed container, or consider purchasing a heating mat designed for seedlings.Always water the container from the bottom. , keep the soil moist during germination.

Until next year is so long for fellow gardeners. Get out there and grow a greener, more sustainable world, one plant at a time! Happy New Year and stay safe!

John Green is a Certified Texas Master Gardener. If you have any gardening questions or would like more information, please contact the Orange He County He Master Gardeners Helpline at 409-882-7010 or County Texas Master Gardeners Association Facebook or email

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