Al­most time to sow seeds

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Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Rob Sproule

GROW­ING your own veg­eta­bles means en­joy­ing sum­mer sal­ads filled with the fruits of your labours. To help decode how you get there, here’s a cheat sheet of when and how to start seeds for the most com­mon edi­bles in­side as bed­ding plants. Pin it to your fridge or put the dates in your phone; it’s a guide for get­ting go­ing on a de­li­cious sum­mer har­vest. Early March: Toma­toes. Seed your toma­toes about eight weeks be­fore the last frost. Don’t try to get a jump on spring by start­ing them early. Do­ing so usu­ally does more harm than good as they tend to get leggy and pale if in­side too long. Sow the seeds about three mil­lime­tres deep in a moist seedling mix. You won’t need ex­cess light dur­ing ger­mi­na­tion, but as soon as they emerge pour as much light on them as pos­si­ble. Early April: Broc­coli. It’s a good idea to start broc­coli from seed at this time to make sure it’s ready for har­vest be­fore the first hard frosts of fall. Pro­vide lots of light and keep it in­side un­til the last win­ter frosts have passed. Mid-April: Cu­cum­ber. Th­ese veggies are easy to grow in­doors. Start­ing them four to six weeks be­fore May will give a con­ve­nient jump start to the sea­son. Plant the seeds about 1.5 cen­time­tres deep in 7.5 cm pots. I rec­om­mend plant­ing one or two seeds per pot as they grow quickly. The seeds pre­fer a tem­per­a­ture of 20 to 25 C, but will ger­mi­nate, al­beit grudg­ingly, with slightly less. Late April: Zucchini and sum­mer squash. Start­ing squash from seed is easy. Make sure you have a warm spot (above 20 C if pos­si­ble) and plant one or two seeds in each 7.5-cm pot. Keep the soil moist and they will ger­mi­nate in about a week. Give them as much light as pos­si­ble and they’ll grow quickly. They grow so quickly, in fact, that I wouldn’t rec­om­mend start­ing them in­doors be­fore the sec­ond week of April. Early May: Let­tuce and salad greens. Let­tuce ger­mi­nates eas­ily enough that you can di­rect-seed it into your con­tain­ers once the frosts are over. Make sure the soil is nu­tri­ent rich and moist and cover the seeds with a light layer of seed­ing mix. Salad greens love cool tem­per­a­tures and will ger­mi­nate best be­low about 15 C. Trans­plant them gen­tly out­side when the leaves are 7.5 cm high. Mid-May: Car­rots and beets. The best way to grow root veggies is to di­rect-seed them out­doors. You usu­ally do this in mid-May (depend­ing on the weather, of course) once the soil has thawed. Test to see if the soil is warm enough by dig­ging your fin­ger into the first three cm; if it’s chilly to the touch, wait a few days or the seed will have trou­ble ger­mi­nat­ing.

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