With the warmer than usual temperatures during the winter of 2011-2012 has made the season very unusual for the Kansas City area. Several weather forecasters are predicting that we will continue to enjoy mild temperatures but do need some precipitation. Many hope the precipitation comes in the form of rain. Gardeners are all ready preparing for the upcoming season by starting seeds indoors.
February is the time to begin planting flower and vegetable seeds indoors. Petunias and Impatiens seeds are started 10-12 weeks prior to planting outdoors. Tomato and pepper seeds can also be started now. Let your spring start early and save money by trying to start your seeds indoors. The ability to take a tiny seed, soil, light and create a beautiful flower can be the beginning of a new hobby.
How to start seeds indoors
The seed must be started in sterile soil at 70 degrees. The seeds are small so it is best to place them on top of the soil as light aids in germination. Cover trays with plastic in a lighted area but not in direct sunlight. When seeds begin to sprout remove the plastic. Add a small amount of soil around the plant being careful to not disturb the seedling. When plants are around 2” tall they are ready to be transplanted into small pots at least 3” tall. Using a spoon to minimize touching seedlings with your hands seems to help decrease shock to the plant.
Hardening off plants
“Hardening off” is a term that means to help the plant slowly become accustom to the outdoors. After seeds are around 6” tall tou begin to harden them off. Start by placing them outdoors in a protected area for short periods of time. Cold beds or small greenhouses can be purchased from local garden centers or seed catalogs. They can also be made by hand if you have the time. The are many to choose from and when made portable they can be used for protecting plants from frosts, freezing and hail when you put plants out early. Mother Nature is unpredictable so being prepared for the unexpected can help you save time and money during the growing season.
Plants and trees grow according to the increasing amount of sunlight and not due to warmer weather. The biggest danger of an early spring is if unpredictable Mother Nature brings unexpected snow or an ice storm early in the season. Plastic frames and even bed sheets thrown over new plants can help you have an early garden