Sunflower Acres is a revolutionary garden center and farm in the mid-Willamette Valley in Oregon.

From The Experts – April

From The Experts – April

Starting from Seed

Starting your garden from seed is one of the most gratifying and cost-effective horticultural processes. Going from seed packet to harvesting the vegetable or flower is something that you can brag about the whole year. You have complete control over the entire growth cycle and know exactly what inputs are in the fruit or vegetable you enjoy at the end of the season. With the mild temps this month, here are some tips for directly sowing seeds into your garden soil or raised beds. We’ve broken down the process into three parts: Preparation, Sowing, and Growing.


As with everything in the garden, success starts with a plan.
Start by selecting the seeds you want to grow. Some easy plants to start from seed are carrots, peas, corn, wildflower varieties and, our favorite, sunflowers.
Next, map out where you want these plants in the garden, planning for space based on the recommendations on the seed packet.
Cleanliness is absolutely key when starting from seed. If you haven’t done your garden bed cleanup yet this season, now is the time. You don’t want to plant into soil covered with last year’s buggy or diseased leaves. Also, while working up the soil bed, you agitate the weed seed bank. Hence, when you apply water and fertilizer to your desired seeds, you also apply nutrients to weed seed. Competition with weeds will be covered a little later, but make sure to have the planting area weeded thoroughly. Ensure that you have all nearby weeds removed that could later go to flower and deposit even more unwanted seeds.


Seed Starting
Now that prep work is done, it is time to till and amend the soil with compost.
We truly believe in using organic fertilizer when it comes to seed-starting production. Organic fertilizers are safe to place in the planting hole and won’t burn the seedling when it begins to germinate.
When planting in straight rows, use a string line as guide for your hoe to create a furrow for the seed. If planting flowers and other seeds you aren’t growing in rows, it is okay to dig small holes where you want the flowers to grow.
Once the soil is prepared to the directions from the seed packet, it is time to sow. Be sure to follow the spacing guidelines, cover with soil, and lightly water in.


Growing From Seed
The goal is to keep the seed moist but not too wet to achieve proper germination. As stated earlier, when watering your planted seeds, you are also watering weed seeds in the soil. Be sure to pull weeds as they pop up, so they do not compete with the seedlings as they germinate.
As germination takes place. some crops require thinning to make room for the mature size the plant will reach. With corn, for example, you generally need to thin out every other plant to make room. Have another bed ready to transplant these seedlings into to increase your harvest yield.
Depending on what kind of critters or pests you have in your garden, you might want to protect the seedlings for the first few weeks after germination. It is a good idea to place slug bait in the areas you seed and to protect seeded areas with wire cages, row covers, cloches, or hot caps. This helps keep your seedlings from becoming someone else’s feast.
Once seedlings reach several weeks in age and are the size of a typical start you’d buy at your local garden center, you can continue with your regular water, care, and fertilizer regimen based on the crop type.
Growing plants from seed to harvest is very rewarding and the ultimate farm-to-table process. Happy sowing.

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Sunflower Acres Farm & Garden™

PO Box 5843
Salem, OR 97304
Phone: 503-967-5902

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