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Publication: Garden Guides
Starting Seeds Indoors

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                    GardenGuides Newsletter 
                      January 31, 2006

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How to Prevent Houseplant Problems
[Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens] 

* First, isolate new plants for several weeks until you're 
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* Return diseased or pest-ridden plants immediately. 
 
* Wash your hands thoroughly after touching an infected 
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* Discard old plants that are beyond saving.

* Clean pots before using them again. 

* Remove all dead leaves and spent blossoms, and clean 
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* Water and mist in the morning. 

* Follow as closely as possible the exact cultural require-
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Starting Seeds Indoors
By Terry L. Yockey

I always start some plants in the house so I can get a jump 
on the growing season. I enjoy following the whole life 
cycle of my plants and trying different varieties than the 
usual ones you can find at the nursery. The seed catalogs 
are full of new types of flowers, vegetables and herbs. For 
a very small investment, you can grow a whole garden of 
different varieties. When you are only spending a small 
amount up front, you can afford to be adventurous!

I've tried many different methods of indoor seeding. The one 
I like best is the Accelerated Propagation System. It uses 
a capillary matting underneath so you never have to water 
from above and wash seeds and plants away. Another advantage 
is that you can go away for a few days, and your small plants 
will be fine. Fertilizer is added to the water, in very small 
amounts, for continuous feeding.

Use only a few seeds per compartment so you don't have a 
tangle of germinated seeds to thin out. I like to presprout 
my seeds, and then just plant the ones that germinate. To 
presprout, put your seeds on a folded paper towel that has 
been moistened. Cover them with a glass and place it in a 
very warm place. I use a special heated grow mat which I can 
also use under my APS. Make sure the seeds never dry out and 
they should germinate in a few days to a week.

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The growing plants should have plenty of ventilation. A small 
fan will keep the air moving. At this point warmth isn't 
needed or desired. The plants will be sturdier with cooler 
temps (60 - 65 degrees). They do need lots of light, however. 
Fluorescent lights work very well, because you can lower 
them to right above the seeds and small plants. Many seeds 
need light to germinate, so start the lights right after you 
seed or when you are presprouting.

When should you start your seeds? It really depends on what 
you are growing. The seed package usually tells the optimum 
time to start inside.

If you buy the larger APS, you can leave the plants in it 
till they go outside in May. Generally, I replant my plants 
into a peat pot about a month before they go out. That way 
the pot and all go right in the ground, for the least root 
disturbance.

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The last thing to remember is not to plant them outside 
without hardening them off first. This applies to house 
plants you take out for the summer, as well. Plants grown 
in the house do not like the fluctuation in temperatures 
and the air currents they find outdoors. It's best to get 
them acclimated to it gradually. Some people take them out 
a little longer every day, starting with an hour the first 
day. I put mine in a cold frame for a few weeks, lifting 
the plastic for a few hours a day.

I know its very tempting to order a packet of every new 
variety you see in the catalog. If this is your first try 
at seed starting, it might be better to start small. 
Remember, there is always next year when it comes to 
gardening!

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