A Season for Starts with Mike Darcy

When the Territorial Seed catalog arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, I knew that it was a signal spring was coming. It was the first seed catalog to arrive and since then, there have been others. It is difficult to describe the pleasant and peaceful feeling of contentment when the seed catalogs begin arriving. Ask any gardener and they will tell you the same thing. I am aware that these catalogs are available on-line, but there is something special to have a printed catalog to look through and actually feel the pages.

Many gardeners will start some of their plants, both flower and vegetable, from seed. I mentioned the feeling of contentment when seed catalogs arrive, there is also a feeling of contentment and fulfillment of planting a seed, seeing it germinate, watching it grow and then having it come into fruition.

With the right equipment, starting seeds indoors is not difficult. The following is a general check-off list. Not everyone will need every item.

  • – Gro-Light
  • – Seedling Heat Mat
  • – Peat pots
  • – Plant trays
  • – Seedling mix potting soil
  • – Seeds

If you have a sunroom or bay window providing lots of light, a Gro-Light may not be necessary. However, we do live in a climate with many overcast days in the winter and without adequate light, seedlings can easily get tall and leggy. A seedling heat mat will warm the root area and improve germination and generally increase the success of new seedlings. Many gardeners will sow seed directly in peat pots, but seeds can also be sown into plant trays with the new seedlings transplanted into a larger pot later. Peat pots are great to use because, as the name implies, they are made of peat moss and can be planted directly into the ground at the proper time to set plants outside. A good soil mix is crucial, I like Black Gold Seedling Mix because it is organic and highly refined.

I suggest doing some research on the seeds you will be planting so that they do not need transplanted outdoors before it is time for them to be planted in the garden. For example, tomatoes are a very popular seed to plant and the time from when a seed is planted until the plant is ready to go out in the garden is usually six to eight weeks. In the Willamette Valley, May is about the earliest tomatoes should be set outside without some protection, so looking at a calendar and working back, late February to early March would be the month to plant seeds indoors.

Starting seeds indoors can provide some good teaching moments for kids. Pick some seeds that are large like a pea, bean or sunflower so little fingers can easily plant them. If you are going to start seeds this month, try peas. They not only germinate quickly but can be set outside early in the season and they grow fast.

The seed racks at Wilco are full of the new crop of seeds for 2018. Make your selections early as many popular varieties of both flowers and seeds can be sold out. Gardeners can tend to get anxious with spring approaching