Seed Starting Kits Giveaway 2020

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In an effort to encourage youth to participate in gardening, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Onslow County Center offered FREE seed starting kits to youth in Onslow County!

Starter Garden Kit

Our Onslow County staff assembled the seed starter kits and were able to distribute them to OVER 300 FAMILIES!

staff assembling kits assembling garden kits boxes of garden kitsStaff assembling garden kits

During the week of April 27, 2020, Onslow County youth received seed starting mix, peat pots, cucumber, and squash seeds, and lots of great information on how to get started!

Check Out Some of Our Seed Kit Recipientschildren with their kits girl with a kit girl planning seeds girl planting seeds girl planting seeds girl watering a pot boy with his planted seeds girl with her planted seeds boy showing a seedling Little Miss Agriculture with the kit poster planting seeds

Seed Starter Kit Updates

If your family has received one of our starter seed kits check out the updates from our Water Quality and Ag Program Assistant, Casey Sandmeyer

April 28, 2020 – The Beginning

Casey walks you through the process of starting your garden with our seed kits!

Be sure you’re checking on the seeds daily and keeping the soil moist!

May 5, 2020 – Thinning the Seedlings

My seeds have germinated… now what?

seedlings emerging

Once your seeds have germinated, the next step is to thin your seedlings. To do this you need to decide which seedling looks the healthiest, this is the one you will keep and plant. As shown in the photos above, the seedling I chose to keep is the taller of the two. Once you decide on the seedling you want to keep, gently pull the other seedling out of the pot. This allows the seedling you are keeping to grow tall and healthy without having to compete with the other seedling for water, soil, and sunlight.

Once the first set of true leaves emerge, we recommend watering your seedling with a diluted liquid fertilizer (e.g., Miracle Gro) every other time you water until ready for planting. The seedling is ready for planting when it has 1-3 true leaves and is a couple of inches tall. If your seedlings look “leggy” (have thin stems) that means they need to be moved to a location with more sunlight.

Check back in a couple of days for a tutorial on how to plant your seedlings in your garden! In the meantime, don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag #GrowOnslow when posting about your Start a Garden Kit!

May 13, 2020 – When To Transplant

How do I know when my seedlings are ready for transplanting?

The first leaves that appear when your seeds germinate are called cotyledons. Cotyledons contain stored food from the seed which provides energy for the plant to grow. After about a week, true leaves will start to emerge from your plant (shown in photo below).
Different from cotyledons, the true leaves are able to produce their own energy for the plant through photosynthesis.
It is important to allow your seedling to grow at least 2 true leaves before transplanting into your garden. (Stay tuned for a video demonstration on how to transplant your seedlings!)
If you have been keeping your seedlings indoors, they need some time to get used to outdoor conditions. This needs to be done gradually so that they are not shocked by the outdoor conditions. Start by putting your seedlings in a shady spot during the day and bring them in at night, slowly increasing the amount of sunlight each day.
Eventually, you should start to leave them outdoors overnight to get used to nighttime conditions. This process is called “hardening off.”
Please note: If you have been keeping your seedlings outdoors this step is not necessary.

June 3, 2020 – Transplanting Your Seedlings

Today is the day! As you can see in the photo in the top right corner, there are 4 true leaves on my squash plant and many more coming. It is finally ready to be transplanted into my garden bed.

Here is a step-by-step for how to transplant your seedlings when they are ready:
  1. Prepare the garden bed by making sure there is enough room for the plant to grow (2 ft. for squash; 10 in. for cucumber) and including a complete fertilizer into the soil before planting.
  2. Dig a hole to fit your pots. You want the soil in your pot to be level with the soil in the bed. Looking at my squash pot, the soil was slightly lower than the lip of the pot so I tore it off (see photo #2). The peat pots are made of dried plant materials so they can be planted directly into the garden bed because they will eventually biodegrade and become part of the soil.
  3. Place your pot in the hole, cover with soil, and water generously. Check-in on your plant every couple of days to make sure it’s getting enough water.

The squash will be ready to harvest 50-60 days from the time of planting. The optimal size is 4-6 inches long.

The cucumbers will be ready to harvest 50-65 days from the time of planting. The optimal size is about 6-8 inches long.