It's a good time to start seeds indoors
This is a great time to get seeds started indoors. Are you looking for a seed source? We are lucky in Stutsman County that the Stutsman County Library hosts a seed library that is organized by the Jamestown Community Gardens. The seed library provides free seeds to those who are interested. The Stutsman County Library is currently closed to public visitors. However, if you call the Stutsman County Library (701-252-1531) staff can tell you what seeds are available and prepare your order for curbside pickup. It is a great resource that we are lucky to have.
When deciding when to start seeds, you will want to back date from the time you estimate to transplant seedlings into the garden. On average for this area, the last frost-free date is about May 13. Most transplants should be planted in the garden about two weeks after the last frost date. This puts us at an estimated planting date around the week of Memorial Day. Now is a great time to get seeds started for plants such as peppers and tomatoes that should be started 6-8 weeks prior to transplanting. Other plants such as cucumbers and squash should be started at the end of April or early May since they only require three to four weeks of growth time before transplanting.
Seeds can be started using either seed starter mix (usually made up of peat moss, compost and perlite) or regular potting soil. Do not use topsoil or soil from the garden as true soil usually does not provide good enough drainage and can harbor diseases and weed seeds. Seeds should be kept in a warm location about 70° to 80°F to promote germination. A heating pad may help start germination but is not required. On seedlings have germinated, keeping the seedlings at room temperature is sufficient. Keep seedlings in a sunny location to ensure they receive enough light and if needed supplement with a grow light. Keep seedlings moist but not wet. Seedlings that are overwatered will start to damping off and die.
Before transplanting seedlings to the garden, you will want to harden off or acclimate the seedlings to the outdoors first. This can be done by setting the seedlings outdoors for a short period of time to begin with (an hour or two) and gradually increasing the time spent outdoors and decreasing the amount of water they receive. Choose a shaded, shelter spot outside to harden seedlings. If possible, choose a cloudy, calm day to transplant seedlings into the garden to help avoid transplant shock.
For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 701-252-9030, go online at: www.ag.ndsu.edu/stutsmancountyextension or e-mail Alicia Harstad at email@example.com.