How to Start Tiny Seeds for Fall Crops

| 6/27/2014 11:03:00 AM

Midsummer is generally the time to start seeds for fall crops, depending on your region. Here in the Ozarks, sowing tiny seeds like turnips, rutabagas, onions, leeks and spinach directly in the garden can be difficult, especially in hot, dry weather.

Amaranth seeds

The seeds usually come out of the packet too quickly without enough space between the seeds. Also, heavy summer rains can wash the seeds into a pile before they have sprouted. And, tiny sprouts dry out quickly. Challenges are compounded in summer for starting lettuce, spinach and turnip seeds that need cooler temperatures to germinate.

Fortunately, there is a simple, quick technique to help your veggies sprout during the heat of summer.

Using Discarded Seed Trays

The next time you’re at a store that sells seedlings, ask if you can have a few of the empty plastic seedling trays. They are discarded by the millions each season. The trays with openings about 3 inches square (or round) work well for this project. Smaller openings don’t hold enough soil and larger openings use up a lot of potting mix.

To begin, cut or tear 1 inch strips of fabric long enough to reach the bottom of the tray opening, yet leaving about a 1 inch tab on each side (using the same principle as those plastic tabs for getting batteries out of clock radios easily). This fabric strip will be used to lift out the soil and seedlings in one block like a piece of cake, only better for you.

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