Please read Anticipating Spring before this entry.
Read the directions of the seed packet and following them is the fifth step. New seed is more likely to germinate but I have been able to successfully use older seed by promptly sealing them into an old peanut butter container to keep out excess moisture. I also place them on the unheated porch for a portion of the winter so that they get a cold shock. You can use a refrigerator for the same affect but make certain that they are in an airtight container or they will dehydrate. Many seeds need the cold to get the command to germinate. Odd but true. I’m certain that a plant biology book explains why this occurs.
Use your sixth sense; actually use common sense as the sixth step. I place a layer of foil insulation on the table, a seedling heat mat, topped off by a seed tray where the planted containers warm. My house is kept at 50-58 degrees so the seedling heat mat is a requirement to coax the seeds to germinate. I have it on a timer so it comes on an hour before sunset and turns off an hour after sunrise. The tray is in the sunshine so it receives solar light during the day. If a lot of moisture has accumulated on the clear tray topper, I take it off so the soil and seeds don’t rot or steam. It is important to be moist but not wet and not too hot.
Once the seeds sprout, place them in a seed tray in the sunshine or under a florescent light for step number seven. Remember, the florescent light needs to be within a couple feet to be effective. I still use filtered water to give them a wee drink. Too much or too little water and the seedling will die. A little sip each day is better than a big drink each week. I rotate the plants as soon as they start bending towards the light. It is important that all sides of the seedling face the window in rotation. I call it “seed tending” and turn them every couple days.
Eighth Step: wind is good. I place a small fan on low and oscillation as soon as the seedlings rise about a half an inch tall. They need the breeze to grow strong. Otherwise, they won’t be strong enough to handle real wind nor strong enough to support large leaves or fruit/veggies. I have the fan on a timer during daytime hours, which also helps to ensure that the plants don’t get too hot in the direct sunlight. The seedlings closest to the fan dry out faster so I check them often.
TO BE CONTINUED