Atlanta may have comparatively short winters, but come February, people who enjoy gardening start planning their next great venture. And, the best way to start is with seedlings. Here are a few tips to get you rolling:
- Take the time to choose the right seeds for your needs. Annuals are easier to handle than perennials but if you are up for a challenge, simply choose the plants that appeal most to you. Typically, sunflowers, marigolds, lettuces, tomatoes, and chives are easier to raise while moon flowers, petunias, eggplants, and parsley will keep you on your toes.
- Start your seedlings indoors and be sure to place them in the right environment to thrive. Rather than using garden soil, try peat pallets that expand with water. Place them in a subdivided tray that fits into a drainage flat and plant two-three seeds in each section. Familiarize yourself with the information on the seed packet which will provide details on sun requirements, spacing and more. Use your phone to snap an image of the instructions for future reference or simply hold onto the packages.
- Provide plenty of light. Since seedlings generally require 12 to 14 hours of sunlight a day you may need to purchase a fluorescent light to augment natural sunlight. Position your seeds four to six inches from the light.
- Keep your seedlings moist. When you water your seedlings, keep moisture off the leaves because that can cause rot. Instead, apply water directly to the peat.
- Avoid overcrowding because that can result in sparse leaves and weak stems. When your seeds grow to about an inch, snip them at the soil line so there is only one per section in your tray.
- Execute a smooth transition to outdoor living. Approximately one week before the last frost, acclimate your seedlings by leaving them outside for a few hours each afternoon and bring them back inside overnight. Repeat these steps until frost is only a distant memory.
- When it is time for a permanent outdoor move, review the packet for guidance on sun and shade recommendations, planting depth, and spacing between each of your seedlings. Remove each seedling from its cell by gently nudging the bottom. Take care not to bury the stem when you plant, give them water, and watch them prosper.
Some folks like to plant their annuals in railing planter boxes on a front porch or on a back deck. Atlanta Decking can integrate them into designs when building a new front porch or deck. Be sure to ask us about incorporating colorful plantings into your next outdoor room project.