Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved
Starting Transplants From Seeds
Many annual and perennial flowers and vegetables are started indoors. Vigorous plants started indoors flower and produce earlier than those started outdoors. Varieties that may not be available from local nurseries can be grown.
Seed Quality, Quantity, and Variety
Success depends on the quality of the seed. Good seed is current stock, and has a high germination rate and strong emergence. Old seed often has poor germination as well as reduced plant vigor. Buy the best seed available from reputable seed firms. Be sure to select varieties adapted to our area.
When to Sow Seeds
The date to sow seed is determined by the date when the transplants are to be set in the garden, and the desired transplant age. How early to set the plants out depends on the hardiness of the plant and the weather. Some plants can withstand frost while others cannot.
Plants grown during the winter in a greenhouse, or in hotbeds or cold frames under less favorable conditions, require longer growing times. Some gardeners believe older and larger transplants yield earlier than younger transplants, reasoning less time is required in the field. In general this is not true. The use of older transplants results in tall and spindly plants, delayed flowering, and in some cases rough fruit, in addition to lengthening the growing period and increasing transplant costs.
Many gardeners try to rush the season and start their seeds too early. They then are disappointed in the quality of their transplants and in the transition they make to the garden. A smaller, well-grown transplant is always preferable to long weak and spindly ones.
There are specific temperature ranges for best germination of the different seeds. Temperatures below or above the optimum ranges increases the time required for germination, or decrease the percentage of healthy seedlings produced. Soil temperatures vary considerably. Check them with an accurate soil thermometer. During early spring, the soil temperatures in germinating flats are often well below air temperatures.
Watch for more information on starting seeds in coming weeks.