With the starting seed process started in forced and protected cultivation by sowing directly into containers in the period considered optimal, a very high percentage of horticultural seedlings develop undisturbed in the best conditions recreated indoors during the most critical phase of the life cycle of germination with a prolonged temporal advantage of weeks is available, until they become ready to expose themselves to seasonal weather in the permanent location of the dwelling in the garden as soon as the season allows it. This time advantage available extended by weeks to allow early growth on the arrival of the first colds and autumn frosts is more valid for eggplants and peppers that are difficult to germinate and for climbers (melons, watermelons, etc.) that do not tolerate roots being disturbed. Sowing indoors before in the garden is not a practice reserved for more experienced growers, nor too complicated or difficult to perform. Although it is a less easy technique and requires more time available than direct sowing in the open field, starting vegetable seeds inside following a perfectly designed and organized work plan has numerous certain advantages: seeds that are difficult to germinate or very small in size they enjoy a guarantee of superior success in the presence of optimized conditions (temperature, humidity, fertility). It is no longer necessary to wait whole weeks until the soil outside has warmed up just enough to be able to put the seeds in a condition to germinate, but in the meantime you can start in the moist soil prepared indoors, avoiding initial risks of attacks of pests and diseases (postponed until the newly fortified vegetable seedlings become ready to face the outdoors) and benefiting of about 4-8 weeks compared to crops sown directly in the garden soil. Already grown protected for at least 2-3 months, vigorous plants are better able to withstand the heatwave if summer arrives early in the area; in locations with a short growing season it is possible to obtain a harvest of spring vegetables tolerant to colder temperatures, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, while in those with a short summer season, species that love heat can be planted first (eg tomato) extending the yield before it returns fresher; there is a greater availability of varieties to choose from, not being limited only to young plants available in local nurseries; this type of cultivation, which can be carried out all year round, depending on the species and the climate, requires only a minimum supply of plant and basic equipment. In February, foreseeing the last risk of frost at the end of March, or postponing it by a month depending on the meteorological situation of the area, you can plan and start the indoor sowing of summer cycle vegetables (watermelons, cucumbers, onions, aubergines, melons, peppers, leeks, celery, courgettes, etc.) excluding those with edible roots such as beets and turnips as they require greater depth of soil. If the temperatures remain cold for longer than expected and the seedlings have to be housed for more than two months, when transplanting them into the garden they have more developed roots.
Garden sowing sowing indoors: Containers and technique
Depending on the needs and requirements, it is necessary to procure the essential material for sowing and germinating indoors: seeds of excellent quality; already mixed sowing earth (finely chopped peat and sand in equal parts, or composed mainly of peat and perlite, with vermiculite, sphagnum, etc.) and ready to use in the case of bags of soft and light disinfested soil, with high percentage of germination, such as to guarantee optimal drainage, sold in bags in specialized shops; a complete soluble fertilizer; containers (provided with drainage holes in the bottom to avoid rot): rather large alveolar germinators in the shape of a mobile and light tray to be moved, divided into many compartments with single cells (12, 40 cells, etc.) which can also be used for different crops in contemporary without entering into competition, manufactured in expanded polystyrene (polystyrene), flexible plastic, cork, in thermoformed pressed peat fiber, or, for monoculture, mostly jars also in peat or disks of the same material, pressed and dehydrated by expand in water. The seedbeds in biodegradable peat fiber are very practical, they can also be cut following the cell imprint and transplanted together with the germinated seedling, without being forced to proceed with a repotting that would risk compromising the roots that may be piercing the bottom, as in the case of species (eg Cucurbitaceae) particularly sensitive to this operation of transition to home, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins.
The tray must be filled about ¾ with the appropriate soil which, once pressed and compacted, is to be covered with another 1-2 mm layer of substrate, on which to apply further pressure, then proceed to level the surface by tapping the container on the work surface a couple of times to prevent air bubbles from forming. Sprinkled the mixture with water, lightly and carefully so as not to undermine the seedbed finished preparing or, even better, immersed the seedbed with the bottom in the water in a container in order to completely moisten the substrate by absorption, proceed at sowing. Open the soil in each compartment in the alveolus trays with a finger or create tiny holes in the jars, the seeds are carefully housed in them: 1-2 larger seeds or 3-4 small seeds at a time at the depth indicated for each specification horticultural species on the back of the corresponding sachet of seeds, but at the most equivalent to 3 times the measurement of the diameter, as in the case of beans or peas. Once all the holes in the container have been filled, it is necessary to cover them with about 1-2 mm of sieved substrate by pressing again to ensure absolute cohesion between soil and seeds. A practical system suggests marking each sowing point with a label bearing (with a pen or indelible marker) the name of the vegetable variety and the start date as a reference. By covering the containers with a sheet of glass or plexiglass, with a sheet or with a transparent plastic bag completely closed, a miniature greenhouse effect is recreated while maintaining a higher temperature and humidity inside that favor germination. . The containers should be placed in a place protected from drafts, bright and warm, but not affected by direct sunlight until the shoots sprout to ensure a temperature of about 18-28 ° C, depending on the species, such phenomena of dehydration or excessive humidity which could cause the seeds to rot should be avoided. In order not to dry out too much, ruining the germination in progress, the substrate needs to be treated with frequent irrigation by providing water in modest quantities and at room temperature to avoid thermal shock. Considering that the direct jet of water, even if very fine, would move the seeds into the seedbed, the nebulization spray is even better than a small watering can.
With these optimal conditions, by checking and possibly uncovering for a few tens of minutes if excessive condensation tends to occur or by wetting the compound in the event of a surface close to dry, we proceed until the seedlings germinate. If more than one seed per cell has sprouted in the alveolus trays, only one seedling must be left inside while, in the monoculture containers, when 3-4 leaves have sprouted on the small horticultural crops, the excess ones must be extracted to transplant them into single jars or in another location, separating them at a distance of about 5 cm from each other.
Once uncovered, excessive overcrowding must be reduced by carefully cutting the plants at the base with a pair of small scissors. The containers must be moved in front of a south-facing window, in a sunny position but, in case of still very cold and freezing nights, it is better to move them to a warmer place. There are also electrically heated propagators, while the embedded leafy vegetable seed nonwoven sheets, arranged and kept moist on trays in front of the window sills, produce fresh and tender fresh salad leaves (chard, catalonia, Chinese cabbage, radicchio, radishes, spinach, etc.) and aromatic herbs (dill, watercress, tarragon, chives, mint, rocket, etc.). The most complete and professional trays - modular interlocking, with water collection tray - closed by a transparent lid, reproduce in miniature the indispensable microclimate as in greenhouses. Optimized starting conditions are offered at home by the performance of growing stations consisting of plastic trays and adjustable canopy with energy-saving fluorescent lamps with a phytostimulating effect to maintain a temperature of 25-28 ° C and grow lettuce, chili, etc. at any time of the year.
Almost a month after sowing, when the seedlings have stabilized, they can be treated once with a complete water-soluble fertilizer. Grown in protected conditions indoors for about two months without ever having dealt with the direct intensity of the sun's rays, they cannot be moved directly outside: the stem is still too weak to withstand the rigors of the wind and, in general, the plant itself is not prepared for the heat of the sun and risks drying out. After about two months indoors, for at least 15-30 days it is better to acclimate the seedlings by moving them to an outdoor space in full sun for at least a couple of hours a day, gradually increasing the exposure time, possibly shading them slightly for a variable period. up to and including the night (if not too cold). With the gradual transition into the new environment, the plants transplanted with all the clod of earth around the root system (to keep it completely intact) are predisposed to continue the healthier and more resistant life cycle. At first the foliage is mixed, with light green leaflets grown quite flat and enlarged at the time of confinement to try to absorb more light, while the new ones sprouting outdoors are smaller in size, but soon the seedlings will begin to show a growth aspect in full operation.
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There spring is close and the March is the ideal month for sowing of summer flowers.
It is useful to remember that in this month that sees the transition from winter to spring and then from the cold and frosts to a mild climate, some plants you can already sow in the open ground others instead in seedbed.
Before sowing directly in the home or in the open ground it is good to perform routine work such as working the soil thoroughly in order to make it soft and suitable for receiving seeds.
Sowing soil tillage
The hard and compact surface layer must be broken. Then you work well up to about 30 cm in depth using suitable tools for gardening.
Weeds are collected and added slow release fertilizer or mature manure. Finally, the soil is leveled, avoiding compacting it.
Depth is the first mistake, as it can be the most serious. Indeed, we need to find the right balance between two factors.
If we put the seeds too close to the surface of the earth, we risk the birds eating them. If, on the other hand, we bury them too far below the surface, we make the germination process very complex.
The general rule, in order not to be mistaken, is to place them below the surface following their same length.
How to understand when the Moon is waxing or waning
But when does the Moon change? And now what moon are we in? Is there a waning or waxing moon? I'm questions very frequent and the answer comes from tradition.
To distinguish the phases of the moon and understand if the Moon is waxing or waning, just look at its curvature (also called hump) and remember the proverb my grandfather always said:
hump in the west crescent moon, hump in the east waning moon
An important role, according to the peasant tradition, is played by moon phases: it is said, in fact, that the activity of the moon greatly affects the growth of plants, therefore it is essential to have some notions on the subject. With the waning moon, for example, the earth is particularly receptive and welcomes the seeds of vegetables that grow underground. The crescent moon, on the other hand, is more suited to the sowing of plants that develop on the surface. Consult the lunar calendar month by month, referring to the current year, it can therefore prove to be an effective strategy for promoting an excellent quality crop.
Let's start with the valerian
April is the perfect month to start sowing valerian. First, let's find the seeds. Then we amend the soil with manure, without exaggerating with the quantities. We then find a flower bed in our garden that is exposed to the sun for 5 hours a day. Furthermore, we try to place it in a place where it can grow freely. Let's water it generously, because we always need a moist soil.
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This month is unpredictable under theatmospheric appearance, if you sow too early and they come sudden drops in temperatures or excessive rainfall you risk losing the entire harvest. That is why it is precisely in this period that the work in the garden it gets harder.
Soil preparation in March
The ground must be prepared well, and it is good to know that a wet ground is Not worked properly in the previous months it cannot be used immediately for sowing, it is necessary to proceed to dig it up and wait for it to dry. Otherwise the too compact soil it does not ventilate preventing the seed roots to develop optimally.
What to sow in March
Is it possible to sow basil, cucumbers, watermelons, eggplants, tomatoes, pumpkin is zucchini. Towards the end of the month it is time to sow the vegetables in the open field, in the meantime we will keep them indoors under a cloth or in a small greenhouse.
You can start with spring-harvested vegetables such as courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines, peas and peppers.
If you are in an area with mild temperatures, it is possible to start sowing all those vegetables that require temperatures below 10 ° to germinate such as carrots, chicory, lettuce, radishes, rocket, lettuce and potatoes. An essential condition is to take the utmost care by covering everything with a fabric sheet to protect them in case of heavy rains or drops in temperature.
If the area is hot then already in March it will be possible to sow watermelons and melons.
Generally it is time to sow garlic and onion, asparagus, beets, beets, cabbage, cucumbers, turnip greens, broad beans, fennel, endive, peas, leeks, radicchio, rocket, celery is Jerusalem artichoke.
What to collect in March
In March we can still find the latest winter varieties: pumpkins and cauliflowers. Furthermore, among the vegetables to be collected there are: lettuce, rocket, escarole, endive, lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, cabbage, chicory, the various crucifers such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, in addition to garlic, onion and leeks, but also beets, artichokes, celery, carrots and fennel, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes e salsify.
Transplants in March
The transplant is none other than the planting of seedlings grown indoors in the open ground. In this month you can transplant potatoes, garlic, onion, shallot, lettuce and cabbage.
Pruning in March
This is the time for tree pruning before spring awakening. However, it is better not to cut too much, but to facilitate the natural shape of the plant.
Eliminate the internal branches that take little light, starting with the base. There direction of the cut is the most important thing: never sharply but obliquely, with the outside facing upwards. This is the right time for citrus fruits and fruits such as kiwifruit.
Herbs in March
If we sow basil and parsley in mid-March, we will have these fragrant herbs until the end of summer. In this month, which marks the beginning of spring, we can already harvest dandelion, rosemary and valerian.
The orchard in March
In March the winter pruning is completed, keeping the varieties that suffer the most from frost last. Instead, we begin to prune oranges and mandarins, which have finished their cycle. Crown and split grafts can also be done.
This is a delicate moment, in which the first buds appear, but there is still no real flowering, and it is time to intervene with pesticides, weed the soil around the trees and eventually mulch.
Other useful information can be found here:
- Seasonal shopping:what to buy month by month
- Agricultural Lunario: I work with the moon month by month
- Garden work month by month: how they are organized