A SEEDSTARTING ROUTINE
For New Jersey gardener Barb Stiehl, starting flowers from seed has become second nature. As she puts it, “From the moment the seeds arrive, I just march along.”
HERE’S HER ROUTINE:
• Using a seed-starting soil mixture, she plants seeds in cell trays with clear plastic covers that hold in humidity until sprouts appear.
• In her basement, she positions the trays on heating mats below LED and fluorescent lightbulbs on timers suspended by drop chains to adjust the height as the seedlings grow.
• In mid-april, she begins moving seedlings to the unheated greenhouse to increase the light and strengthen them. If very cold weather arrives, a heater is used to warm the greenhouse.
• Seed trays are moved outdoors when the weather warms.
BARB’S ANNUAL SEED-SOWING CALENDAR
for her average last frost date of May 15:
FEBRUARY 20: Geraniums
FEBRUARY 27: Impatiens
MARCH 6: Snapdragons, Shasta daisies, petunias, dusty miller, and Phlox drummondii
MARCH 20: Tomatoes, peppers, parsley, salvia, ageratum, and Verbena bonariensis
MARCH 27: China aster, Tithonia, and basket flower.
APRIL 3: Eggplant, broccoli, and amaranth
APRIL 10: Nigella and Heliopsis
APRIL 25: Basil, Centaurea, cucumber, squash, and watermelon
MAY: Direct-sow seeds that germinate in the garden such as zinnia, nasturtium, and marigold.
Among Barb’s thrifty secrets is her plant-label substitute. She uses plastic knives to label seedlings such as Alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’, Vista Purple salvia, and angelonia. “It’s so much less expensive than buying labels,” she says.