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HOMEGROWN – In the beginning was the seed

Suzanne Griffith

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Here’s a trick question: What’s the only fruit to have its seeds on the outside? If you guessed strawberries, give yourself a pat on the back.Each day we encounter seeds in the foods we eat, from the microscopic seeds that line the outside of a strawberry to the palm-sized seeds we find in avocados and mangoes. No matter the size, contained within each seed is nature’s genetic map to a new plant. With the combination of the right conditions, including moisture, oxygen, soil and an ideal temperature, the seed is coaxed out of the dormant state and begins the process of germination.When starting seeds you will need to have a few items on hand: the seeds of your choice, a light weight seed starting medium, a trowel and several clean and dry recycled containers such as egg cartons, yogurt cups, or PET bottles. I also like to use a permanent marker to label each container with the type of seed and the approximate germination time.To ensure maximum germination, verify that your seeds are fresh. Most commercially available seeds will indicate on the package the date by which they must be sown by. Select the location for your nursery, one that is sheltered but still receives ample sunlight and air flow.  When using recycled containers be certain to punch small drainage holes in the bottom of each one. Fill each container to nearly the top with the seed starting medium. The closer the soilis to the top of your container the greater the airflow over the soil will be. This will prevent the seed from rotting or becoming diseased as a result of too much moisture.Plant the seed to the depth recommended on the package. One way to ensure that the seed has been planted to the proper depth is to measure and mark a small dowel or stick and insert it into the starting medium up to the mark. Cover the seed lightly with the medium and moisten it, taking care to not allow it to become too wet. Maintain this level of moisture and before you know it, your seedlings will start to appear! Keep a close eye on the progress of the seedlings and as they reach maturity prepare to transplant them to your garden.