One is entitled “Starting Seeds Indoors,” a General Horticulture publication, HO-14-W. Mine was reviewed and updated in April, 2001. When I was an active Master Gardener, copies could be picked up free from the office, or mailed to anyone who included a self-addressed, stamped envelope with their request. The six pages of my copy have a lot of information, and I value highly what I gained from having it in my bookcase, and have used it every year. Among the subjects covered are; Selecting seeds for planting; Containers for sowing seeds in; Soil, Soil mixes and other growing media; Sterilizing mixes and containers; Germination time; Time to start seeds before last frost (but not that last frost date for every year); Damping off; Growing seedlings; Transplanting and thinning; Pinching (when to, and when NOT to); Hardening off (prior to planting outdoors); Planting outdoors; and a table of the time to seed before last frost for most garden plants, the germination time for each, as well as the growth rate, cold and frost tolerance after hardening. I also have a 29 page booklet entitled “The Germination Times,” published in England, but available from Thompson and Morgan, P.O. Box 1308, Jackson, New Jersey, 08527. It has a price on my copy of 99 cents but the information about planting Indiana seeds from your County Extension office is available for almost one dollar less, with no sales tax! Allen Boger, the Horticultural Agent (now deceased) was my first Master Gardener trainer, and co-wrote our publication. Seeds could be started in our own garden soil, we start ours in purchased potting soil.
Seeds do not need to be fertilized, they come including everything necessary to get started in life except warmth and moisture, and they can develop stems and leaves, but they need light, preferably warm sunlight, but that can be duplicated by hanging a two bulb electric fluorescent fixture just above the growing plants, one cool white, one warm white bulb in each fixture, hung four or five or six inches above the leaves, and so they can be raised higher as the new seedlings grow taller. We grow started plants in commercial potting soil, in six – six cell units, with drainage slits in the bottom, each six-pack labeled as to contents, contained in waterproof 11 X 22 inch plastic trays. We fill each of the cells with moisturized potting soil, I have screwed pieces of inch plywood, the shape of the open top of each cell of the six cell container. They have been screwed to another piece of plywood, the shape of the open top of a six cell unit, so I can compress the soil in each unit to the proper density.
I leave one cell on the outside of each flat empty, because I prefer to water my plants from the bottom, and this allows me to view the amount of moisture remaining in each level flat. Again, light similar to the sun’s rays need be provided these growing future garden residents, and two bulb fluorescent light fixtures (being frugal, we use one warm white and one cool white four foot long fluorescent light fixture), attached with chain, which will cover two 11 X 22 inch flats, on the shelves that I grow my plants on. It is really enjoyable to go downstairs frequently and make sure everything is going well with my growing garden plants, and if something untoward happens, we can still buy plants at planting time, for the same price others pay. . . . good gardening