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Gardening with Gutner | Seedlings

Seedlings can be a great way to get a head start on the growing season.

MAINE, USA — Even though the snow has melted and the sun is stronger, it's still too cold to start your vegetable garden outside. You can start seedlings inside, though.

Gardening with Gutner talked with horticulture professional Pamela Hargest from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County.

Hargest showed NEWS CENTER Maine Chief Meteorologist Todd Gutner how to start seedlings:

There are a variety containers to choose from including biodegradable, multi-pocket trays, and open trays. Whatever you choose should have holes in the bottom for water to drain and a tray to catch the excess water. It’s also important to have lids to keep moisture in while germinating.

Hargest used tomato seeds to demonstrate planting:

  • Fill your container with soil dampened with water.
  • Tamp down the dirt
  • Use your finger to create a furrow for the seeds.
  • Barely cover the seeds with soil.
  • Water the seeds using a spray bottle.

Heat is important for germination. Hargest suggested finding a warm place in your house like above a refrigerator, but you can also use a heat mat that sits under the tray. The heat and a lid will create condensation and you may not have to water your seedlings very much.

“The important thing is that you take the tray off once the seeds have started to germinate,” Hargest said.

Once the seeds have germinated, light becomes very important. Hargest said special lighting is good for tomato seedlings, although some plants do better without the lights.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers technical assistance to gardeners and is a great resource. Visit their website to find out about last frost dates and when to start seedlings.