DARREL KOEHLER: The Prairie Gardener — Get A Head-Start On Planting

Starting plants indoors is a great way to get a jump on the gardening season. Many plants, vegetables and flowers will bloom longer or bear fruit well into autumn if started in spring and set in the garden after the danger of frost passes.

If you are attempting this for the first time, get fresh potting soil and trays with small cups for planting. Plants should be able to drain in case you have overwatered.

Plants that can be started early in spring include most flowers, hot and sweet peppers and cabbage family members. Tomatoes and vine crops (cucumbers and squash, for example) can be started a little later. Tomatoes can be started in early April, while in the case of vine crops, you can plant them indoors in early May.

Plant seed carefully in the pots you have selected. The fresh soil and equipment (trays) should keep “damp-off” diseases a bay. This is a fungal disease that is spread by dirty soil or equipment. The young plants topple over and die.

After planting, place seed flats in a cool, dark place — under a bed, in a closet or even in a spare bedroom. Plants will emerge in about 7 to 10 days. Then, the plants should be placed in a warm, sunny location and watered very carefully. After several weeks, you can separate the transplants into larger containers so they can spread out.

In early May, when it’s warmer, plants can be placed outdoors for short periods to harden off. Vine crops can be transplanted into the garden at two weeks. Those and other plants such as tomatoes should go out to the garden after the danger of frost passes in late May.

For more information, contact your county extension office.

3 thoughts on “DARREL KOEHLER: The Prairie Gardener — Get A Head-Start On Planting”

  • Bev Benda March 24, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Thank you, Darrel for your wisdom and inspiration! I will get my indoor gardening supplies out this weekend and start planting!

  • Justin Welsh March 25, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Great article and reminder to get a started on planting. Growing your own is rewarding!

  • Elaine J. Allen March 26, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    So good to see your “byline” again, Darrel! I’m starting my indoor garden, too. I have a stalk of celery growing from the root base. And I managed to keep my basil alive all winter. Sowed spinach seeds earlier this week.


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