Geraniums, Growing Sprouts, Seed Starting

Did you make cuttings from last year’s geraniums? Pinch out the tops so they become bushy. This is also true for any other cuttings you may have made at the end of last year’s growing season. Decide now to pay attention to garden plants this year that can be propagated by taking cuttings at the end of the growing season. I have scented geraniums that I have been propagating for years. They make wonderful gifts for friends, cost little money, and are well appreciated.

Would you like to enjoy some sprouts? Would you like to teach something wonderful to young children? At this time of the year everyone seems to yearn for fresh greens. Go to an organic grocery store and buy some chia seeds, basil seeds, black mustard, alfalfa seeds, radish seeds, and mung bean seeds. Why go to an organic grocery store for those seeds? The plants that produced the seeds you purchase have not been treated with herbicides, fungicides, or synthetic compounds. You can grow the seeds on unglazed pottery saucers, on a chia pet, or in a germinator.

Soak the seeds overnight before placing in the container. The seeds sprout in about a week. Use the sprouted seeds in salad or stir-fry.

Are you starting plants from seeds this year? Although it is truly a thrill to watch seedlings emerge, it is necessary to think about your ultimate purpose. If you wish to share this experience with children, choose seeds that germinate relatively quickly, do well on a lighted windowsill, and which easily transplant into gardens later. Examples of these might be marigold, radishes, chives and beans. Be sure to thin the plants or to plant fewer seeds. If you are growing plants from seed for yourself, don’t start too early or you may end up with poorly developed plants that are leaning toward the light or are in need of transplanting. Take the time to read the information on that package of seeds. This may tell you the time necessary to grow the seeds before transplanting into the garden, how many seeds are in the package, the germination rate given as a percent, the depth the seeds need to be planted, and special information such as whether or not the seeds need to be exposed to light in order to germinate. Sometimes it’s just easier to directly sow seeds into the soil (sunflowers and zinnias) or to simply buy the plants.

It is perhaps best to grow plants from seed that cannot be bought locally or are expensive because of the quantity you want to have in your garden. Many people use a sterile potting medium to start seeds. I use commercial potting soil and seldom have had die-off due to fungi that can attack seedlings. The clue to all this is warmth, moisture, cleanliness, and an awareness of the young plants’ needs. I use heater cables to speed up the germination process. Seeds must be kept moist.

If the potting medium dries out before the emergence of the first tiny root hair, the plant will not emerge from the seed. Give those seedlings plenty of light to produce strong plants that can be hardened off and successfully transplanted into the garden later.

Forever Young Magazine March 2005