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Bringing Up Herb Babies

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Even when the weather is still nippy, herb gardeners can get a head start on spring by starting plants from seeds indoors. Tiny dormant seeds soon transform into vigorous plants, well on their way to graduating outside with the grown-up herbs. If this is on your to-do list for this month, here are three tips for success.

The first hurdle when growing herbs from seed is keeping an evenly moist soil. Too much water rots the seeds before they sprout. Too little and nothing happens. The key is to check the soil�s moisture at least once a day. If this is a problem for you, invest in a seed starting kit that uses a capillary mat to steadily draw water to the soil from a reservoir underneath the seed tray.

A second issue is providing enough light for seedlings. Most sunny windows are not as bright as you might think. Only about fifteen percent of daylight passes through the average window. I recommend a florescent grow lamp to provide full-spectrum light up close and personal for your baby plants.

A third problem is fungal disease. The seeds sprout and begin to form their first true leaves. Suddenly the soil surface takes on a fuzzy coating. This is �damping off,� a condition caused by fungus attacking the vulnerable stem. You can discourage this by using a small fan to keep the air moving. It deprives mold and fungus of their favorite environment, damp, stagnant air.

With these three tips you�ll have a successful plant nursery. No diaper pails or colorful mobiles here � just self-watering seed trays, a full spectrum lamp, and a small fan. And of course, happy little seedlings.