The following is by Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:
It’s February. It’s nearly spring. Never mind that the ground hog saw his shadow, now is the time for all gardeners to commence gardening preparations.
Following is one of the most popular questions that Master Gardener volunteers are asked on the Hortline: when should I start seeds indoors for transplanting to the garden? The often used phrase “it depends” applies to this question. It does depend on what plants you intend to grow. The number of weeks from first sowing the seeds to planting outdoors may vary from flowers to vegetables. Seed start time for some popular ones are as follows: Geraniums—10 to 12 weeks; Petunia and Impatiens—8 to 10 weeks; Marigold, pepper and eggplant—6 to 8 weeks; Tomato, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower—5 to 7 weeks; Cucumbers, watermelon, muskmelon and squash—3 to 4 weeks.
If sowing seeds in flats or trays, fill the container to within one inch of the top with your planting medium. Firm it down, water thoroughly, let it drain. Fine seeds are sown on the surface and lightly pressed into the medium. All other seeds are to be covered with planting medium to a thickness of one to two times of the seeds diameter. Then water from the bottom (submerge) until the topsoil is wet then allow to drain. Or you can water from the top with a bulb syringe. Keep the soil uniformly moist, cover the container with a clear plastic food wrap.
Always purchase good quality seeds. Use clean containers. Provide ample space for the seedlings to grow. Air circulation should be good. Follow planting directions on the packages and fertilize accordingly. Adjustment to the out of doors should be a gradual process: spending some time on the deck or porch before transplanting to beds would be wise.
My daughter and two grandkids are excited to plant their second garden. Maybe we’ll try planting seeds and see if they get as excited as I do when sprouts commence popping through the soil.