Monday, March 10, 2014

My Favorite Way to Start Seedlings: Parsley

Spring is thawing us here in the frozen north of central Wisconsin.  The Polar Vortex has abated a tad.  The car thermometer said 55 degrees today!

Yes, car thermometer, as in I was out of the house on my own for the first time in 5 1/2 months!  I went to the dentist!  No one has ever been more excited to go to the dentist, I can assure you.  I guess you have to spend a couple months in bed and then a few more not stepping outside, all the while knowing it is freaking 40 below with the wind chill out there on the tundra, to make 55 degrees and a visit to the dentist to have a filling replaced seem to be as wonderful an outing as a trip to Hawaii.

The weather today has got me all jazzed up to start some seedlings and get going on some corms to be transplanted later.  This year it is going to be pretty simple.  I am still about a week from starting my basil, tomatoes, and peppers.  I also want to start some flat leaved Italian parsley.

Parsley is one of those things that you sit and you wait and you wait and you sit.  During all that time it takes up a lot of space.  The seed is nice sized so you can see what you are working with,  I like to use coffee filters for this process, although I have heard of people doing this with paper towels.  I find it is easier to pick the seed off coffee filters versus the damp paper towels as the seedlings' radicules tend to grow into the paper toweling pretty quickly.  You don't want to damage roots at this stage.

I wet the coffee filter in hot water and remove a lot of the excess moisture.  Placing them on my bamboo cutting board makes it easy to see the filter and the seed when I sprinkle them on the wet filter.  I then fold the filter over into quarters.  Light can still penetrate for those seedlings with that requirement.  I put the folded filters, two to a zip-lock bag and tape then on the side of my fridge where they get morning light.

This saves a lot of space.  This is a great method to use for seedlings that will germinate at temperatures from 55 to 70 degrees (F), whether or not light is a requirement.   I typically use this method for seedling that require more than 7-10 days to germinate.  (Today I used this method with parsley, onions, statice, and laurentia.)

When the seedlings are thinking about the third leaf (or the first true leaves) they get carefully pricked into growing medium.  If they are very tiny, I shake them onto growing medium, lightly cover, and press.  I often continue to control humidity with either a dome lid or a wrapping of plastic wrap over the tray.   This method saves me three weeks of trying to control humidity levels while staring at trays with nothing growing in them.

In a couple weeks, check back in and show you the seeds' progress.

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