It’s not too early to begin gathering seeds for the spring garden. Select seeds from reputable sources to ensure high quality. Saving seeds from previous crops can yield unexpected results due to cross pollination. Unless you have a specific reason for saving seeds, such as continuing an unusual species, this practice is not recommended. Quality seeds are often treated for disease and pest resistance helping them produce a more reliable crop. The best start for your garden is from healthy seeds.
Starting transplants for the vegetable garden typically requires four to eight weeks from seeding to transplant date. Visit the Kansas Garden Guide where you can find the Average Expected Planting Calendar to know when the best start date is for seedlings intended for transplanting into the garden.
Always use a disease-free, soilless planting media or seed-starting mix for seeds. The containers for seed-starting can be individual cups, trays or even recycled containers as long as they have drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the container with a couple inches of media and then lightly cover the seeds with the mix after planting. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate and keep the containers under lights in a warm location.
When the seedlings have grown two to four small leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into small pots. This will allow them to continue growing until it’s time to transplant into the garden.
An important step for successfully transplanting seedlings into the garden is allowing time for hardening off. This should typically be started about ten days before the transplant date and involves gradually acclimating the seedlings to the outdoor conditions by reducing the amount of water the plants receive while slowly increasing their exposure to the outdoor conditions. This prevents the plants from experiencing transplant shock so they can continue normal growth when they are transplanted.
By Cynthia Domenghini, Extension Agent