In the garden

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.
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27


The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair


Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

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October 2017
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Caring Clothes Closet RVA, a free clothing ministry that helps at-risk kids, single moms and the homeless, will host the 4th annual Pop Up Shop Holiday Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, 4825 Pouncey Tract Rd. Over 25 one-of-a-kind vendors will feature unique and handcrafted items perfect for holiday giving. Vendor space benefits Caring Clothes Closet RVA. Full text

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