Time to buy summer transplant seeds Lifestyles

After Christmas is the best time to buy seeds for growing indoor summer transplants.

Bethany O’Rear, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s regional agent for home areas, gardens and home pests, said when it comes to buying seed for early summer transplantation, availability will be greatest after Christmas.

“The best month for most seed catalogs to arrive by mail is January,” O’Rear said.

Seed selection

Buying the seeds needed for summer transplanting can seem like a huge task. The most common transplants grown indoors include peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. When looking for the best seed, O’Rear has three rules of thumb for buying seed.

Look for disease-resistant varieties. Selecting disease-resistant varieties is just one way to avoid problems before the start of the growing season. Treating diseases can be a costly and time-consuming problem during the season, so choosing a disease-resistant variety can help prevent these problems before they begin.

When selecting seeds, consider the shape of the garden. Since there are so many ways to plant a garden – containers, high beds and large gardens – it is important to consider the ultimate goal when buying seed. There are hearty garden plants as well as terraced varieties that will fit into a backyard garden of any size or shape. O’Rear said that if you decide to grow in containers on a patio or porch during the season, choosing the terraced varieties is the best choice.

Buy more seeds than you need. Even if your gardening plans include only a few tomato plants, buying extra seeds can be beneficial.

“Over the past few years, it’s been hard to find a selection of vegetables, and stocks have been limited,” O’Rear said. “Buying the extra seed is a good insurance policy for future gardens.”

Put this over

After planting the seeds, special care is required until they are transplanted into the garden.

Light

For a healthy, strong transplant, the seeds need 16 to 18 hours of strong light. It can be natural or artificial. Less light results in poor transplantation.

“Gardeners can use 40-watt, 48-inch fluorescent tubes to produce enough light,” O’Rear said. – Place these bulbs two to four inches above the seedlings on a timer.

The lamps should initially be just above the ground line and then raised to be 2-4 inches between the lamp and the plants.

Irrigation and fertilization

When he decided when to water, O’Rear said he would wait until the transplant started to wilt slightly. Then water the plant until it runs out of the bottom of the tank. It is important to place it in a container with drains for proper watering. Fertilizing every second watering promotes a healthy transplant. Start this alternating pattern with a water-soluble fertilizer as soon as the first true leaves appear.

Training off

As summer approaches and the transplants are almost ready, they will need to move into the garden and harden. This means that the transplant must be gradually exposed to natural elements: sunlight, temperature and wind.

Hardening means thickening of the cuticle on the leaves in order to prevent water loss when exposed to the elements. The procedure helps prevent transplant shock, a term used to describe seedlings that wither or stunt after a sudden change in temperature and exposure to light. It is best to start this process seven to fourteen days before planting in the garden. The curing period varies from plant to plant and from seedling to seedling.

Mary Leigh Oliver writes for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service.

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