In March the Horticulture Committee explored the subject of seeds, led by Co-Chairs Judy Kirshner and Helen Hartung.
Judy brought stacks of seed catalogues - obviously a passion for this HPGC member known for her edible and beautiful gardens that have graced the neighborhood. While there was much information shared, the following key points are some great take-aways from the meeting which was attended by ten members.
Gardeners might consider scattering flower seeds in a designated area and watering lightly with an old-fashioned sprinkler on the end of a hose. Judy did this last spring in her new un-built backyard and was thrilled with the variety and beauty of the wildflowers that emerged and fed butterflies and bees for months.
However, given the cool nights and our clay soil which stays cool, sowing seeds in a 'defined planting' usually provides better success rates, particularly for vegetables. Judy and Helen encourage gardeners to use clean pots or trays, start with planting seeds in clean trays with appropriate planting soil mixes, sufficient light and perhaps lightly covering the tray to build up moisture and warmth. Don't plant into clod wet soil, don't crowd the plants, plant at proper depth and don't bury their crowns in the soil. This can reduce "damping-off", a horticultural condition caused by a number of different pathogens that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings before or after they germinate. It is most prevalent in wet and cool conditions.
Other suggestions offered for successful seed-started gardens? Try a germination test - putting seeds between wet paper towels and see if they sprout. Water your tray from below, letting the soil soak up the water and encouraging the roots to grow down rather than on the surface. Transplant your seedlings to slightly larger pots before you put them in the ground. When you do plant them in the garden, consider surrounding them with toilet paper tubes or paper cup protection to dissuade cutworms from destroying them.
HPGC participants poured over the glossy seed catalogues, learned about heirlooms varieties vs. hybrids, and filled their own brown paper packets with seeds collected by Judy and Helen to plant in their own gardens.
Let the seed season begin!