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Tips for seeds and seedlings

These tips may aid in growing your plants from seeds.

Seedling Tips:

Don't drown the seedlings: Starting seedlings indoors is a gratifying experience, however, watering of these youngsters can be damaging. Try planting seeds in a seed-starting tray that contains several individual cells - leaving one cell empty. To water the seedlings, pour water into the empty cell. The water will drain into the tray and be soaked up by the seedlings.

Multiply your plants with seeds!

Collect seeds from your perennials in the fall. Snip off the seed "pods" and gently remove the seeds that are hidden within. If necessary, remove the chaff (papery covering over the seed) from the actual seed. In the fall, the seeds can be dropped onto the soil in the desired location. In northern climates, the winter snow cover will provide moisture and protection for the seeds - they will germinate in the spring. In warmer climates, the seeds may need to be lightly pressed into the soil in order to germinate.

How long do seeds last? If seeds are kept in a cool, dry location they can last for several years. Place the seeds in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. Silica gel packets placed into the seed container will keep the humidity level down. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, endive, cucumber, lettuce, pepper, radish, sunflower, and tomato seeds can be stored for at least five years. Beans, carrots, celery, parsley, peas, pumpkin and squash can be stored for at least three years. Corn, onion, parsnip and spinach seeds are not recommended for storage for more than one season.

Can seeds from this season's plants be saved for next season? It is first important to determine which type of plant the seeds will come from. Knowing the type will determine whether or not the seed is worth saving. There are two types of plants: Open-pollinated and Hybrid. Open-pollinated plants are just that...plants that have been allowed to freely pollinate. Seeds saved from open-pollinated plants will most likely produce plants similar in characteristics to their parents. Hybrid plants are those which have been produced by crossing two open-pollinated varieties in order to achieve specific characteristics such as flower color or size. Seeds from hybrid plants will produce plants that are lacking in characteristics most desired by the parent plant.