Want to grow your own saplings?
You'll need to start now to have your seedlings ready for spring!
Luckily, Blue Seal has everything you need to help start your planting plans off on the right foot.
It is best to start seeds in open flats to maintain even moisture, then transplant to individual pots when the seedling needs the space. Since garden soil is too hard for seedling roots to penetrate, you should use a seed-starting medium or potting soil. Cover new seeds to a depth of three times their thickness with the soil, unless they need a light source to germinate. Check the plant's background or seed packet for specifics on each one.
Label your plant/pots now, so when they begin to sprout you'll be able to quickly tell once they begin sprouting. Sphagnum moss should then be sprinkled lightly over the soil. It is a natural fungicide and protects against diseases that rot seedlings. Set flats in a shallow container of water. Allow them to soak until the surface of the planting medium looks moist. Alternatively, water from above with a watering can. But be gentle or the seeds may be washed to the top of the soil.
Cover according to the needs of the seeds. Use a clear plastic dome for seeds that require light, and burlap or black plastic for seeds that do better without. Either way this will help retain moisture. Seeds should be kept moist but not soggy and in a warm place, around 70°F. A heating pad may be useful here.
Once the seeds start to germinate, remove the cover and let them have some light. Sunlight is best, but may not be plentiful. Grow lights or florescent shop lights may be used in addition to (or instead of) natural light to provide the 12-16 hours of light seedlings require. After germination, remove the seedlings from the heat source. The seeds no longer require it and it dries out the soil.
Seeds may require re-potting if they outgrow their current environment. This usually occurs around the time the seedlings grow their second set of leaves. However, check each plant's specifics as some seeds do not take well to being re-potted. Meanwhile, set up a small fan to blow air at the seedlings. This will encourage them to firm their stalks and grow strong.
About a week before they are to be planted, the new plants should begin an acclimation process. Take them outside for a few hours each day to sit in a shaded place, safe from pets or pests. At the end of the week, plant them.
The timing of this transplanting (and therefore the timing of the planting of the seeds) is essential to the vigor of the plant. This is done by finding the last frost date of spring and by counting backward from that planting date by weeks. When you begin to sow your seeds should be indicated on the seed packet.