Gardeners Corner

What you need to get your winter seedlings going

Eric outlines how he does bedding plants plus a tip on getting Christmas cacti to bloom on time

Growing your own bedding plants from seeds for your flower show or the vegetable garden, can be an exiting way to spend the winter months, but what would be involved in this?

First, you need seeds, soil, a flat for the potting soil, heat and the right amount of moisture.

I wrote about seeds last week, so let us look at what kind of soil to get. You also need to plan for transplanting the seedlings.

It is cheaper to purchase a large bag of potting soil. I don’t buy any, but make my own, by mixing leaves and grass clippings over the summer month making compost, mixed with on-third fine sand.

For heat, purchase a heat mat; they come with a preset thermostat at abut 25C. Then I use a digital heat mat thermostat controller for seed germination.

I plug the heat mat in to the controller and insert the censor into the soil, to adjust the heat.

For light, I use two kinds, one for seed germination, an LED grow light, white sun, like Plant Light Bulb, attached to a goose neck lamp and a four-foot fluorescent fixture with grow light, to be used when three quarters of the seeds have germinated.

This last one is to be installed in a room where to temperature can be kept close to 50-60F.

It is of utmost importance the seedlings be moved into this room and kept here, until one month before planting time, or they will grow leggy.

You will also need the following: At least one standard propagation tray, a mesh tray 10” x 20”, the same as the ones you get when buying bedding plant.

I use the mesh tray for the soil, with a piece of newspaper in the bottom

A piece of glass large enough to cover the flat and planting soil.

A moisture metre and a fine spray bottle, for watering the seedlings.

Will get into seeding next week.

Some weeks ago, I decided to repot my Christmas cactuses, most overdue. The result is they all began to set buds and are now in full bloom.

If you have one, place it in a dark cool room with no water.

Then, bring the cactus up and place it in a sunny window sill three weeks before Christmas.

You noticed I called them Christmas cactus; I have learned they will flower several times year, if you treat them accordingly.

It you have any questions, or suggestions for topics, please email me: