As a gardener, you may know that many of the garden plants we love are not native to Virginia and require a longer season of sunny weather than our Mid-Atlantic region can afford. That’s why we need to either start seeds early indoors or buy young plants.
Let’s talk about what seeds to start when in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.
This is our second article in Taylor’s 2019 Winter Guide to Lawn and Garden Preparation. Read our previous post about pruning your woody plants during winter. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page to stay tuned for next month’s post about winter yard cleanup.
Taylor’s Do It Center has locations all around the Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Hampton Roads areas. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, this area is zone 8a. It has an annual extreme minimum temperature of 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. April 1st marks the expected last frost of the season.
This means that the beginning and middle of February is when you should start some of your sturdier plant varieties indoors as well as garden plants that require an especially long growing season. It stands to note, however, that not all plants can handle transplant shock. Check the list below for examples of annuals and vegetables that you can start from seeds indoors.
The key climate qualities to monitor indoors are heat, moisture, and lighting. You want to make sure that you have a precision indoor hygrometer & thermometer installed near your seed trays to keep an eye on these metrics. A greenhouse can be a great way to have an exclusive and controlled environment for seedling starting.
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The ideal germination temperature ranges from species to species from 70 to 85 degrees. A seedling heat mat underneath the tray of seedlings will help raise the temperature a few degrees above room temperature. For ideal moisture, keep the seeds wet. Seeds out of the packet need to go from 4-12% moisture content out of the packet to germinating at 25-50%. Having a seed starter tray with ventilation and drainage will keep the seeds from rotting. A fluorescent plant lamp will provide the right type of light and should be installed within 6 inches of the plant and run for 12-16 hours a day (Taylor’s offers indoor/outdoor outlet timers: https://www.taylorsdoit.com/categories/timers). Maintaining long periods of proper lighting will prevent the seedlings from becoming spindly.
When it comes time to transplant the seedlings to the soil around the beginning of April, a frost blanket may give you peace of mind. A sudden last cold breath of winter won’t keep you up at
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Good luck with your garden! Stay tuned for the next installment in Taylor’s 2019 Winter Guide to Lawn and Garden Preparation by subscribing at the bottom of this page.