Saturday, January 9, 2016 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Growing Vegetable Sprouts for Transplants

Tips on planting vegetables from sprouts or seeds

Brian Jervis: Ask a Master Gardener  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Q: Which vegetables should be planted as sprouts? If I grow my own, when should I start from seed? Kurt, Tulsa.
A: Some vegetables do best when planted as sprouts, rather than sown directly as seeds. To obtain the information as to which vegetables should be planted as sprouts and how long it takes them to grow from seed to transplants ready to be planted in the garden, obtain the OSU fact sheet “Growing Vegetable Transplants.” This has complete information about commonly grown vegetables in Oklahoma.
Many of the vegetables take from 5-7 weeks — some shorter — to reach the stage where they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. To decide when to start the seeds, you should get another OSU fact sheet “Garden Planning Guide,” which gives a suggested date to plant each vegetable. From these two documents, you can decide when to start the sprouts from seeds. The Garden Planning Guide also lists how to plant and the time to maturation of all vegetables.
Vegetables that you should consider starting from seed now are tomatoes and those in the tomato family (peppers and eggplant), as well as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, squash, watermelon and others.
Fresh seeds may be obtained from all the local garden centers, by ordering online or from a catalog. Some of the catalogs have extensive varieties of vegetables, which may not be available locally as sprouts.
To be successful in growing transplants, one needs to understand and control several factors. This includes having the proper fertile soil in which to plant, ensuring adequate lighting and controlling the temperature, as well as water and humidity.
The soil in which seeds are started is important. It should be sterile and drain well to prevent a common fungal disease of sprouts called “damping off” (some seeds are coated with a fungicide to help prevent this). You may make soil from a combination of various amounts of topsoil, peat, sand and/or vermiculite. However, if you make your own, it must be sterilized by placing it in an oven — a messy and stinky process. It is best to buy sterile soil mixes available in most garden centers.
After planting, the soil should be kept moist and never allowed to become dry or soggy. If your container is placed in a large, clear plastic bag, good humidity can be maintained and less frequent watering will be needed.
Seeds germinate and sprouts grow best next to a sunny window. However, if this is not an option, one of several types of grow-lights are available in most garden centers. However, sprouts grown under artificial light tend to be leggy and weaker than those grown in the sun.
Gradually harden the plants for a week before planting. This may be done by placing them outside during the day and bringing them in at night. Then they will be ready for transplanting into your garden.

Garden tips

§  Ornamental perennial grasses such as pampas grass may be cut back to 4-6 inches anytime in winter. However, because of winter attractiveness, most gardeners choose to wait until early spring to cut them back. All of the dead tops of these grasses should be removed by early spring, allowing sun to get to new growth.
§  Liriope or "monkey grass"—which is not a grass, but in the lily family—stays green year-round; it also benefits from trimming to 2-3 inches before new growth begins in spring. Liriope and all ornamental grasses will benefit from nitrogen fertilizer in spring when pruned.
§  Prune fruit trees in January, February and March. OSU has a good fact sheet on pruning fruit trees, "Annual Pruning of Fruit Trees".


Post a Comment