In the garden
From seedlings to plants
Starting plants from seed takes a little work and a lot of attention to detail, but it can be a very rewarding experience.
Just ask Henrico Master Gardener Grace Harrison. Each year she starts about 1,500 plants from seed in her 8’x10’ home greenhouse to share with friends and family, sell at yard sales and plant in her garden.
“I can’t think of anything that’s more exciting than seeing those little plants starting to grow,” said Harrison. “It’s a big
commitment, especially if you’re going to start a lot of plants, but it’s also very satisfying.”
Part of the Master Gardeners’ Speakers Bureau, Harrison frequently speaks to groups about starting seeds. Her most important advice: “Do your research ahead of time.”
“Every seed has its own properties and needs,” she explained. “You need to know how much light seeds need to germinate, how long they take to germinate and whether they need scarification or stratification.”
Scarification involves breaking, scratching or softening the seed coat so that water can enter the seed and germination can begin. Stratification is used to provide an “artificial winter” for seeds that require a period of cold weather before they will germinate.
When to start seeds indoors is another important consideration. “You don’t want to start them too early inside,” said Harrison. “Your plants can get leggy if they don’t have enough space and light.”
Harrison starts herb seeds around the first of February.
She likes using the trays with pellets available from the “big box” stores. “They’re convenient,” she said, “and they have the bottom tray for watering and the plastic cover that helps keep the seeds moist until they germinate.”
“You have to transplant your seedlings if you use the pellets,” Harrison adds. “Seedlings need to be transplanted into larger pots as soon as they develop their second set of leaves.”
Harrison usually starts 2 seeds in each pellet in case one doesn't germinate. If both germinate, she sometimes lets both grow but most often snips off the smaller plant at the soil.
Light is an important factor in getting seeds to germinate. Harrison starts by putting the newly planted trays 2 -3” under grow lights. As seedlings grow, she raises the lights. Throughout the entire process, she leaves the lights on 16 hours each.
Seeds need to be kept at the right temperature in order to germinate, which can vary from plant to plant. Generally, 65 to 75 degrees is best for most plants.
Starting plants from seed can save money and allow you to have a greater variety of plants in your garden. “Plus,” said Harrison, “it means a lot more to some people to be able to say I started this myself!”
More information about propagating plants from seeds is available online at http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu (see no. 426-001). To schedule a master gardener speaker, contact Henrico Extension at 501-5160.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/29/2016
Every week, another child is diagnosed with cancer in Central Virginia. Last summer, six-year-old Caroline Morris was one of them.
Diagnosed in June 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, Morris has been receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) ever since.
“It’s not my hair that makes my beauty,” said Morris, who lost her hair as a chemotherapy side effect, “it’s my heart.” > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/25/2016
The sign up period for the Richmond Community Solar Co-op will close on April 30. Nearly 150 homeowners and businesses have joined the group to save money and make going solar easier. The group has started installations and is working with VA SUN to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar.
“If you’ve ever thought about going solar, this is a great opportunity to do so,” said Sekar Veerappan Co-op member and the group’s first installation. “Working with the group helps members learn about going solar and make an informed decision.” > Read more.
CAT Theatre will present four shows during its 53rd season, which begins this fall. All four shows will be Richmond-area premieres, including one world premiere by a local playwright.
The season will feature:
• I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, by Peter Colley – Oct. 14-29;
• The Wishing Well, by Maryland playwright Jon Klein – Jan. 20-Feb. 4, 2017; > Read more.
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CalendarLavender Fields Herb Farm, 11300 Winfrey Rd. in Glen Allen, will offer a free farm tour from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. This walking tour includes farm history, a stop… Full text