Notes From Herb:

There is nothing quite as pleasing as being in a greenhouse at this time of year. The little bits of seed-encased life has been secreted away in hundreds of trays. Covered gently with soil and placed with anticipation under the mist in the "really warm" greenhouse, soon the basils, chamomiles, dill, chives, and various perennials will carpet the tables with their tiny leaves. All shades of green and red will be represented and the entire greenhouse will have the appearance of an antique quilt. As the plants grow, the heights will vary and the look will change. It will still be incredible but the fresh look of the tapestry will fade.

There is definitely something magical about those plants that grow vigorously and easily from a seed. Many gardeners start with a seed pack and become hooked for life. Out of about 300 kinds of plants, we propagate about 30 from seed. The other 270 may be sterile (and don't make a seed), naturally-occurring hybrids whose seed would not produce the same plant, or so slow-growing from seed that they encounter too many problems to make this a worthwhile method of reproduction. 

Starting a plant from a seed is fairly easy (after all, that is what seeds are intended for). Easy, that is, if the seed has its needs met. Not all of us are willing to wait until the weather is just right, the ground is the perfect temperature, or the season is appropriate. Yet the temperature of the air and the soil, the length of the day, and the intensity of the light all play an equal part in the success of growing a plant from a seed.

It is also true that some plants, mostly annuals (like vegetables), actually do better if planted in place or go through as little stress as possible before they reach their permanent home. It is for this reason that we do not offer many annuals as potted plants.

 

Certified Organic Annual Herb Seeds

However, some of the most important herbs, as well as vegetables and flowers, are annuals and should not be overlooked. So, this year we are offering certified organic seed six packs including an Annual Herb Six Pack, a Gourmet Greens Six Pack, and a Sunflower Six Pack. Also returning is our certified organic 8-Pack of assorted Basil varieties.

Once you have the seed, then you need a place to sow it. Ideally, it would be in a germination chamber where heat, light, and moisture are constantly regulated. But, since that may be a bit over the top, we have found a few other items that can help with your seed-sowing success.

The Germination Station

Sometimes the simple things are the best, but I just love it when someone pushes the simple to become simply perfect. Meet the versatile and easy to use Germination Station. You start with a heating mat, set a waterproof tray down on it, then place in it another tray with 72 little pots filled with potting medium and a little beneficial bacteria (to give the seeds a great boost), add your seeds or cuttings, place the clear lid or dome on top, plug in the heater and voila. The perfect little growing chamber.

Another efficient method of seeding and plugging cuttings is to use Rapid Rooter Trays. These trays have 50 cells pre-filled with organic medium that has been inoculated with beneficial fungi, bacteria and micronutrients. This tray will fit into the Germination Station and the larger size cell means that the plant can get to a little beefier size before transplanting. Refills are also available for the Rapid Rooter Tray.

Rapid Rooter Plugs

If you want to keep your plants growing indoors, then perhaps the most important consideration is light. This one element can make or break the success of an indoor growing program. In our propagation greenhouses, we have huge light bulbs that are so bright sunglasses are needed to enter the space they light. For the average person, something on a much smaller scale can be effective. But, make no mistake, whichever lighting system you choose, it will be better than no lighting system. Even a sunny window can spell doom in the winter. We offer several lighting systems, from a simple Dayspot Clamp Type fixture for one or two plants to the Garden Cart (pictured at right) with both fluorescent (bulbs not included) and halide lights (bulb included) built in. To ensure success in the house throughout the winter, it is important that the plant continue to receive enough light to keep it from entering its dormant phase. Fluorescents, which are great for starting seeds or seedlings, must hang very close (three inches or less) to the plants; while halides can hang higher, making it easier to grow plants of differing height

The Garden Cart Deluxe Kit

With so many options, the choices may seem overwhelming. I know it took us several years to finally get the lighting right in our greenhouses. But, when we did, the results were spectacular. It was well worth the effort to see the incredibly healthy plants that are produced when they are getting the right light.

 Remember we are here to help.

Have a great spring!

TIL' NEXT TIME,

HERB