With spring just around the corner, the need to prepare for the new growing season has arrived.
Germinating and growing veggie seedlings in a protected environment is one way to get a headstart and be eating delectable produce a whole lot sooner. There are many ways of achieving this without having to go to too much effort or expense.
A sunny windowsill that receives around four hours of sunlight or more would have to be one of the easiest places to germinate seed with minimal effort. If this isn’t possible, you could use an indoor grow light for similar effect. The cosy temperatures we enjoy indoors help keep seedlings warm and initiate germination. With this in mind, it’s worth noting that the temperature near windows when the sun is out (or in a glasshouse or miniature propagation house) is around 10 degrees warmer than it is outdoors.
Most summer veg, such as eggplant and capsicum, need an ideal soil temperature of 25oC for reliable germination – water resistant heat mats are readily available and keep media 10 degrees above ambient temperature (check out reputable supplier Southside Hydroponics in Fyshwick). A good quality soil thermometer is also a worthwhile purchase to monitor soil temperature and can mean the difference between success or failure.
It is crucial to keep the seedling media reliably moist without being wet, to prevent rotting the seeds; and avoid locating the growing tray near heater vents as it will dry the media and burn delicate seedlings.
Placing a piece of glass or clear plastic over the tray increases humidity and maintains moisture until the seeds start to germinate. Alternatively, you can use a miniature propagation house. Turning the tray every couple of days ensures even distribution of sunlight for uniform growth.