Last weekend I went with my wife to the grocery store. As I sat in the car afterwards I noticed many coming out with very pretty bouquet’s of flowers with no protection from the cold weather (about 10 degrees F). I thought to myself, “They need to learn about the ‘3 bag theory’.”

Any green plant or cut flower will suffer if taken out of a warm store or warm car if the air temperature is below 55 degrees F. Just that short distance from the store to the car or from the car to the house can damage a plant or flowers if not covered.

If the air temperature is between 55 degrees F. and 36 degrees F. you need at least 1 paper sack. (Do not use plastic as it conducts the cold.) Use two bags if the air temperature is between 36 degrees F. and 15 degrees F. Use 3 bags if the air temperature is 15 degrees F. or below.

Also do not leave your plant or flowers in the car while you go shopping. Make this purchase at your last stop and get them back in the house as soon as possible. Copyright 2015 *************************************************************

Starting Vegetable Plants

by Richard Jauron and Willy Klein

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

          Warm-season vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are planted in the garden as small plants (transplants). This practice is becoming more common for cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes and watermelons, because transplants shorten the time by several weeks between planting and harvest.

What type of germination medium should I use to start seedlings indoors? 

The germination medium should be lightweight, porous and free of pathogens. Excellent seed-starting media are commercially prepared soil less mixes, such as Jiffy Mix. Use a high quality, well-drained potting mix when transplanting seedlings into individual pots or cell packs. 

Can seedlings be grown in a sunny window or is artificial lighting necessary? While plants can be grown in sunny windows, they often become tall and spindly because of insufficient light. For best results, grow seedlings under fluorescent lights. A standard fluorescent shop fixture containing one 40-watt cool white and one 40-watt warm white tube works fine. The fluorescent lights should be no more than 4 to 6 inches above the seedlings. A timer can be used to turn the lights on and off. 

When should I sow my flower and vegetable seeds indoors? 

The growth rate of the seedlings and the outdoor planting date determine when to sow seeds indoors. The crop time (number of weeks from sowing to planting outdoors) for several popular flowers and vegetables are:

10 to 12 weeks – Geranium

8 to 10 weeks – Petunia, salvia and impatiens

6 to 8 weeks – Marigold, pepper and eggplant

5 to 7 weeks – Tomato, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and zinnia

3 to 4 weeks – Cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon and squash

Resource: Iowa State University, Yard and Garden for February 6, 2014