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Starting Seeds Indoors

If you like to get a head start on the growing season by starting some of your seedlings indoors, there are a few things you can do that will make your efforts more successful.

I've found that I get the best rate of germination from seeds by keeping the soil slightly but consistently warm, which can make a big difference. An easy way to do this is with an electric warming mat designed to keep the seeds warm and snug in the soil. To encourage that seed to sprout, you must provide the ideal environment.

If you planted seeds directly into the cold soil, they would just rot. But by using warming mats to keep the soil 70 to 75 degrees, the seeds that germinate they will grow into sturdy plants, provided you keep them in a well lit place before you transplant them into the garden.

There are a couple of other tips you may find helpful. When it comes to soil, never use ordinary garden soil. Commercial blends are sterile, light and will hold moisture, making them well worth the investment.

Also, when selecting containers for your seedlings you might try recycling some of the plastic trays or little cell packs from annuals purchased at garden centers. But if you do, it's important to soak them for a few hours in bleach and water. About a ¼ of a cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water will do. And this will kill any fungus.

This year if you decide to grow any of your own seedlings, I think you'll find it's a great way to kick off the garden season.