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FutureStarrAHow to Plant Seeds Outdoors
Because each plant has unique seed-starting requirements, it helps to start small by growing just a few varieties. Some seeds — such as tomatoes and marigolds — are especially easy to start indoors. Other good choices for beginners are basil, zinnia, coleus, nasturtium and cosmos. If you're a beginner, choose those first, and then move on to more fussy seeds, such as petunias.The goal with seed starting is to have your seedlings ready to go outside when the weather is favorable. Start by looking at the seed packet, which should tell you when to start seeds inside. Usually, it will say something like, "Plant inside six to eight weeks before last frost."
Check the seed packet to see how deep you should plant your seeds. Some of the small ones can be sprinkled right on the soil surface. Larger seeds will need to be buried. For insurance, I plant two seeds per cell (or pot). If both seeds germinate, I snip one and let the other grow. It's helpful to make a couple divots in each pot to accommodate the seeds. After you've dropped a seed in each divot, you can go back and cover the seeds.There are a number of factors that affect seed germination. Check the seed packet to determine if all the requirements for temperature and light were met. If the soil was cold and excessively wet, the seeds may have rotted. Dig up one of the seeds and examine it. If it is swollen and soft, the seed has rotted and you will need to start over. If the soil was too dry, the seeds may not have germinated or may have dried up before their roots could take hold. If the seeds were old, they may no longer be viable. Try again and be sure to provide consistent moisture.
Shake seeds into a paper bag or envelope (not a plastic bag, which will retain moisture and promote mold). Some plants have pods which are just another shape of ovary. You can split these open yourself and collect the seeds, but some pods are "spring loaded" and twist and split open themselves, flinging seed everywhere, so collect those seed before this happens.Moisten the surface of the compost with a mist spray. I just use an empty recycled window or shower cleaner bottle (carefully washed out before using). You can use a watering can but unless its sprinkler rose has small holes, it will flood the compost. Don't use a watering can to wet the compost pre-germination if it becomes dry, or to water delicate young seedlings, because too much water will wash away seeds or flatten seedlings. (Source: dengarden.com)