In the garden

some tid bit about perennial here



seeds

greengate has what you need from start to finish.

 

People are now becoming more and more concerned about the foods they eat. We get that! So we provide fresh sprout seeds and vegetables seeds. We have your favorites including hard to source varieties. Of course we offer just about every kind of flower imaginable too. Everything you need to start from scratch is right here in our seeds and bulbs area. Look no further!

 

So regardless of whether you want to grow flowers, or vegetables, greengate has what you need from start to finish. From starting your seeds using Jiffy Peat Pellets, to growing mediums, to pots, we have it all!

 

 

   




Many seeds get off to a better start when they are sown indoors in containers and later transplanted outdoors.

 

loose seeds

 


- In anticipation of Spring -

It's the time of the year when gardeners are looking forward to spring. Many of us have already started to plan this year's garden and if you haven't then now's the time. Gardens are kind of like websites they are very fluid and are also never really finished. We tend to love the great plants and layouts we've had for many years, but we also desire something new and maybe even seek out challenges like trying the newest annuals, follow gardening trends, or trying some of the harder plants to get growing in our gardens like zone 4 perennials.


One way to soothe these desires if to start these plants at home from seed.

Many gardeners are happy to purchase seedlings that are already on the grow when spring arrives which is, of course, is very fine. You skip what is considered to be the heavy lifting of getting seeds to start at home and bringing them along to be transplanted in the garden. However, you may have been cheating yourself. If you have never started plants from scratch perhaps this is the year to try. Sure, there is some work involved, but it's very satisfying to behold your little plants thriving in the garden that came from seed and your care. It's the perfect way to get a head start on your garden and frankly here in Alberta it's sometimes a necessary step. You have a controlled environment, no weeds and no weather issues when starting indoors and that indeed is a great advantage.

This year instead of purchasing those plants that are a bit marginal start them yourself from seed and save a few dollars. If they don't do well, it hasn't cost you a fortune and perhaps with safety in numbers, you find success that you may not have had otherwise. Certainly, you can get some great vegetables and herbs going early to combat late harvest and even make your neighbours jealous should you have early harvests! You can find some plants that are a little rarer too, by starting them yourself. Although it is widely thought that growing from seed has many drawbacks and that you need to channel your inner grandmother to be able to do it, but the fact of that matter is most plants are very easy to get going even here in Alberta.

Because each plant has unique seed-starting requirements,it helps to start small by growing just a few varieties. Some seeds such as tomatoes and marigolds are especially easy to start indoors. If you're a beginner, choose those first, and then move on to more fussy seeds, such as petunias.



Other good choices for beginners are:

    Basil

    Zinnia

    Coleus

    Nasturtium

    Cosmos


All seeds contain specialized cells that mobilize and grow when the germination process is triggered by moisture, temperature and sometimes light. Moisture and stored nutrients energize the embryo, which contains the latent structures for a plant's root, stem and leaves, so before you start there are a few things you have to consider.


Number one is space. Space in this case actually means a couple of different things. For one, light requirements. Seedlings need a warm and sunny area in your home. Even now the days are starting to get longer, but even a south facing window may not provide the light that is needed for healthy growth. Seedlings that are started early as now are likely to stretch to the light which in some cases becomes problematic. Seedlings need a lot of light. If you're growing in a window, choose a south-facing exposure. Rotate the pots regularly to keep plants from leaning into the light. The best way to help them along is to use grow lights in combination with the sun. Typically, you're looking for about 16 hours of constant light via the sun and your grow lights per day. Keep in mind that seedlings also need darkness, too, so they can rest..

Secondly, when considering space, you have to remember that your plants are going to grow like the dickens. It's easy to set up space with lights in the right place only to find out in a month and a half's time that your tomatoes have grown up into your lights. So, think ahead and be ready to react to the plant's growth. You want to start with your lights a few inches from the surface. Can you easily move the lights up as the plant matures? As the seedlings grow taller, raise the lights.

Once plants have germinated and you have nurtured them along moving lights and fertilizing and you marvel at your plant's success, it doesn't seem long before they need to be transplanted. Sticking with tomatoes, for instance, assuming that you have started fairly early they may need to be transplanted into bigger pots and all of a sudden, your neat and tidy seed tray will need double even triple as much space as they needed before. So, you have to consider if you will need more space in the future. To combat this issue, it's always important to know when you should be starting your seeds. Every package will give you a guideline as to when you want to start your seeds. For instance, your seed package will say sow 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

Depending on what you are planting there may also be special instructions like soak seeds for two hours in lukewarm water before sowing, or you may have to scrub the seed husk, so always read the label. Keep in mind not all plants grow at the same rate. Really hot peppers grow much slower that sweet ones and most peppers grow much more slowly than your tomatoes, so to keep plants from stretching, or on the other hand never fully developing over our short summers timing is also something you need to consider when you start your seeds.

Here's greengate's handy seed starting chart for some commonly grown seeds: seeding dates chart seeding dates chart

One last tip before you begin to plant is taking notes. You'll think this a really unnecessary step until you want to plant outdoors, or begin again next winter! All those lovely tomatoes you planted? Which ones are which? Petunias? What colour was what? You get the idea. Carefully keep track of which plants are where especially if you plant more than one kind in a tray. This will be very helpful after you've moved them here and there and spun the trays around through the growing process. By the time its all said and done you'll be glad to know which tray has what plants and next year you'll know whether or not they can be started later, or sooner depending on the outcomes. Remember, your inner grandmother? She knows there's some trial and error. You may have some less than perfect results, but the diversity you can add to your garden is second to none. If your goal is to fill your table with organic vegetables starting from seed is the key. You'll know exactly where your food has come from.



There are of course, many ways to start your seeds.

You can start seeds in almost any type of container, as long as it's at least 2-3 " deep and has some drainage holes. However, there are trays that are made especially for seed starting. It's easy to fill the trays, the watering system ensures consistent moisture and you can move them easily.

 

   

 

Anything that will hold the growing medium will work. You can use cell-packs or pots from last year's annuals, yogurt cups or other found containers. However, you must clean and sterilize them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Make sure of this! It's the one thing that is common in all ways of seed starting, clean trays, fresh seed starting mix, or new Jiffy Pellets.

 

Jiffy Pellets


If you are using mix, use one that is light and fluffy and if possible, use one with nutrients already in the mix appropriate for seeds starting. If the growing medium is too wet, or not sterile, a disease can strike. If it is too heavy or sticky, fine new roots won't be able to push through it. Once you have filled your trays plant your seeds in moistened soil. Use a couple of three seeds in each pack or container, perhaps more if you are looking for a clump of plants, Basil is a good example. Generally, don't plant too deeply and then cover with vermiculite or a light layer of soil. Your seed packet will tell you exactly how deep to plant your seeds. This is another good reason to keep notes. If you have seeds that didn't root well or even fell out of the pellet or tray you remember next year to plant them a little deeper. Watermelons are a good example of a seed that can be planted deeper than peppers or tomatoes.

Jiffy Pellets in either peat or coconut coir are an ideal way to start and are very easy to use. The biggest advantage to the pellet is that you just add water and they will expand, there isn't much messing around with soils. Use hot water to expand your pellets this will save you a lot of time as you can get planting right away. Cold water will work but takes much more time for the pellets to expand. You can plant directly into the pellet and when it comes time to transplant you just plant the whole thing. In this way there is less chance disturbing and maybe even destroying the fresh new roots, as seedlings are very delicate things. Once you have planted your seeds cover the tray with a top.

 




We have a great little video here on starting seeds with Jiffy Pellets.



Seed-starting happens in two stages: Germination and growing.

Germination is the sprouting stage when the embryo of the plant emerges from the seed. You won't generally need light at this stage, but you will need a spot that has gentle warmth which of course lights can provide. If you don't have lights provide gentle heat by setting the containers on top of a refrigerator or dryer; by propping them a few inches above a radiator; or by using special heating mats sold for this purpose. Oxygen is crucial to the germination process, so you want to keep your soil moist, but not wet!

As seedlings break through to the soil surface, they are quickly running out of fuel from the seed and need a new energy source, this is where your light comes in. If they don't get enough light, they are more susceptible to attack by fungi. Window light is usually too weak and directional especially if you are starting vegetables. Vegetables should have a bright overhead light.





Continue to our SEEDLINGS page for the next phase...



starting seeds OUTDOORS

Sowing seeds directly into the garden eliminates the need to transplant. The seeds are planted directly into the rows or beds where they are to grow. Most seeds are sold as loose seeds in a paper packet and should be planted at the depth and spacing indicated on the packet. Some seeds are also sold as seed tape, which eliminates the need for spacing.





starting seeds INDOORS

Many plants must be started indoors, in order to do well in our relatively short summers. They should be planted by start dates specific to individual plants. This information can be found on individual seed packets, as well as in the seeding date section.

 

With Calgary's short growing season, plants grown from seed often do not have the proper conditions to complete their cycle of growth. Many seeds get off to a better start when they are sown indoors in containers and later transplanted outdoors. Many would not have the time to flower unless planted much sooner than is possible outdoors.

 

Plastic flats are the perfect containers for starting seeds, but any container with adequate drainage will do. Seeds that are started in February or March will do much better growing under fluorescent lights, as day length is short and windows do not provide light over a long enough period. Those started in April and early May will generally be fine in bright, sunny windows. Some seeds need heat to germinate, some need cool; some need to be covered, and some need to be exposed to light. Experiment with likely spots in your home and remember that fluorescent lighting can be added to supplement natural light.