Sunday, 24 February 2013

Mulch Volcanoes

pic from google and primexgardencenter.com 

I had never seen these till I moved to the island...

Volcanoes of mulch around the base of evergreens, mostly, and other large trees.

Why?
Am not sure what folks are thinking when they pile up the bark mulch around the base of the trees? What is it that they think they are accomplishing?

Bark mulch should be used in gardens, it should be about 3 to 6 inches deep.
Best to use is the smaller pieces, not the chunks, as the chunks are for looks only but serve no other purpose, and even better yet is the well composted shredded bark.
This mulch should be topped up every two to three years, as it decomposes in the garden.



Bark mulch helps to retain moisture in the bed, acts as a weed barrier, and looks nice and tidy and clean.
It also helps to keep the water from splashing up onto the foliage of the plants, thus avoiding issues with mildews, rust, black spot and other fungal issues.
Is a very important part of your garden.

mtcandl.com
 
You need to leave a 4 to 6 inch ring around the base of the plant that is not mulched.
This allows good air flow and keeps the moisture away from the base of your tree or crown of your plant but covers the feeder roots.

If the mulch is covering or touching the crown/stem/base of the plant, it will actually cause root rot and stem rot. It also invites little rodents that burrow thorough the mulch, right up to the base of the plant or tree where they eat the bark or stem, and kill the plant.
  
Those huge volcanoes of mulch are holding in moisture, oh yes, they are rotting away the base of your tree, and may cause huge issues if not caught in time.

Best case scenario, you notice that the foliage is looking limp or that your evergreen is looking more yellow or limey than dark green. You probably try to revive it by adding more water, which of course, is just going to make matters worse. Removing the mulch, pulling it away from the base of the tree, at least 6 inches away, or if it is a large tree, even a foot or two away from the stem, will help the soil to start drying out. If caught in time, this step will save the tree from demise.

Worst case scenario, you do not notice in time, or you keep adding water, not thinking to remove the mulch, thereby adding to the root rot and stem rot of your tree. By the time you think to check, it has eaten away and compromised the tree so much that it is no longer safe to keep the tree as it may fall on your house, car, or family.

sunriselandscapeanddesign.mobi

No more mulch volcanoes please!
They are harming your tree!
Please go outside and remove any mulch from the bases and crowns of all your perennials, shrubs and trees while you do your yard clean up this spring, or late winter.

Friday, 22 February 2013

How To Go From Lawn To Garden In 5 (Easy?) Steps...



I have blogged before about how to make a fabulous potager, aka kitchen garden, from scratch....

But this post is different.

This post breaks it down into just 5 basic steps.
I would like to say easy, but of course it is not.
It is labour intensive and back breaking work to get it all set up and the super hard part (I always find) is making all those decisions.

So, here goes...



Step #1

Decide on the overall lay out of your potager

This is the hardest part...
Figure out where all your hardscaping is going... the pathways, the raised beds, garden beds, fences, garden shed, pillars, posts, trellises for grapes, pergolas to sit under and enjoy the view, fountains, ponds, etc.. any structural stuff that you want to add to make your garden work for you.

Make it work according to your lifestyle and how you intend to use the space... want a place to sit and enjoy the setting sun? Create a seating area that faces west. Want to soak up the morning rays with your cuppa java? Plan for a space that fits a small table and chairs, with no trees in the way to block your morning sun.

Even if you do not build everything in the first year, maybe it is a 3 year or even 5 year plan, if you have planned for it, you will have the space and place for it when you are ready to go.

 


Step #2

Build your garden beds... whether you decide to go with formal raised beds, or informal ones made by mounding the soil, or maybe you decide to dig down deep, adding good garden loam and removing the existing hardpan, rock, or clay soil.
Whichever style you choose, the planting depth needs to be at least 12" deep but as much as 24" if you can.
12" is enough for most fruiting shrubs and also for root crops such as carrots which need at least 10" of loose friable (crumbly) soil in order to grow straight and long. Also allows you to hill potatoes and grow asparagus.
Invest in good quality garden loam. Please do not skimp here, this is not the place to save money. If you go cheap you will pay and pay for years to come. Amending poor soil takes years, lots of money and is extremely frustrating as nothing grows well until you have finally amended with loads of organic matter.
 
 


Step #3

Plant your perennial kitchen garden plants.
This requires some thought as they will be there for a really long time.

These guys add the 'bones' to your garden, pull it together and make it look fabulous.

This includes your ..
- fruit trees .. apples, pears, cherries, plums....
- fruiting shrubs and vines ... blueberries, grapes, currants, gooseberries, rhubarb, raspberries...
- perennial vegetables that come back year after year, like asparagus, artichokes,  horseradish..
- herbs ... most herbs are perennial in our garden zone (7) and so will remain usable throughout a good portion of the year.

You can also add strawberries to this step, even though they are not actually perennial and will need to be replaced every 3 years. It still is wise to plant for them, if you like to grow them, eat them and jam them.

Do not plant fruits and veggies that you/your family does not like to eat! Everyone else in the family prefers strawberry jam while you like raspberry? It is much cheaper to buy a few raspberries or an occasional jar of jam than it is to plant a row of raspberry shrubs... and is a waste of space that can be used for something everyone actually enjoys eating!

 
Step #4

Plant some perennial flowers

Some folks will want to skip this step.
I say, please plant some lovely colourful flowers that will bring in lots of bees to pollinate your fruits and vegetables, plus add fragrance, beauty and ambiance to your lovely new landscape.

Plant some fragrant roses by the sitting area to enjoy while you sip your wine, some dianthus, irises, daffodils, etc.. to add early colour to your garden, some echinacea to add long lasting summer colour. Monarda brings in hummingbirds and butterflies, yarrow brings in the good bugs that eat the bad bugs, plus butterflies and hummers.


Step #5

Plant your annual edibles, herbs, and flowers

Again, plant mostly what you like to eat, leaving a bit of room to trial a few new things each year (to find new favourites).
No point in wasting space by growing broccoli if the family hates it, grow lots of peas, beans, carrots, or corn instead.

Some herbs are annuals, like dill, cilantro, basil... plant those from seed or starter plants.

Add annual flowers to bring in pollinators and the good bugs like lady bugs to eat your bad bugs and keep it organic. They also add colour and are great for a cutting garden, to bring blooms indoors. My faves are marigolds for pest repelling, gladiolus, dahlias, and zinnias for fall colour, nicotiana for scent and hummingbirds, and nasturtiums for companion planting and pretty colour.

 


 

Monday, 18 February 2013

February Ramblings

I decided to combine the greenhouse and yard ramblings all together here, as February tends to be a pretty not so happening month on the island....

Things are beginning to awaken....



Garlic


Strawberries


Columbines



The back yard is starting to wake up... blueberry berm on the right, still kind of snow covered but full of buds, fruit trees are waking up and in the back is my lovely Birch Corner. Three birches and a bench for contemplation.


Hey! My two girls.


Dahlias


Onions...

As you can see, this post was started well before my darling Little 'Lilah got sick...
Have decided to leave those pics up and just continue, as they do show what the early part of the month was like...

A very sick darling Delilah 

In the greenhouse this month as of Feb 18th and onward ...

I was planning to build a cute little fancy 'shop' to house the early spring goods such as the seeds and seed potatoes, some spring planters and such...

However, as Lilah became more and more ill, and went from the vet to the emerg to the specialist, those plans were kyboshed due to the cost of her sky high medical bills ...  and thus a lack of funds ; )

However....  Is all good though, I have come up with another idea....

The new shop... name ideas anyone?
 

This is the new shop... hmmm, it still needs a name ... it is up and ready to be filled with goodies.

Is not as fancy as I had planned or hoped, but is very roomy and will, I think, also be great for the workshops I have in mind, as well as the shop itself.

I sure am hoping that you all like it and agree with me, that Lilah being here to greet you is much more important in the long run than a fancy ole shop anyway, eh?

I am eagerly awaiting the seed potatoes and seeds from Renee's Garden Seeds, as well as other spring bloomers, to fill up the space.
That combined with soil testing for you and lots of information to start your season right, I look forward to seeing you all very soon!

The cuttings and seedlings are coming along fine in the greenhouse...
If you have not done so already, this month in the greenhouse, you will want to start all kinds of herbs, peppers, and perennials such as echinacea, rudbeckia, and gaillardia.



In the yard and potager...

All three garlic types are emerging... if you feel that your soil is lacking in nutrients, this is a good time to side dress the garlic with some compost or manure.

Strawberries are awakening... clean up any dead foliage and top dress around the plants with compost.

Roses are being cleaned up and cut back severely ... this is due mostly to the snow damage they received up here on the mountain, but also because it is good to cut them back annually to a height of 12"- 18".Pruning promotes lots of new growth and loads of flowers for the year ahead.

Here are some jobs to start pretty soon here on the west coast....

- Is pretty much time to start thinking about your lawn, if you have one ... is time to get it aerated, raked and top seeded.

- Top dress your trees, shrubs and perennials with compost or manure.

- Spray your roses, fruit trees, shrubs, hedges, etc.. with a dormant oil and sulfer mix to kill any over wintering fungal diseases or pests.

- Clean up any perennial weeds before they begin to grow and take hold, plus top up your mulch.

- Test your garden soil and top up with manure, compost, and any other amendments according to the soil test ( things like bloodmeal, bonemeal, alfalfa meal, greensand, etc... )

Till then ...

Lilah has come down with an auto-immune disease at just under 4 years of age, however, she is being treated, is home and feeling much better, so will hopefully be back to her old self again in no time.

Little 'Lilah comes home after being poked, prodded, tested, shaved, etc... for nearly two weeks....
 
Little 'Lilah is on the mend and her new sister is growing like a weed.....

 
Not a great pic, but both girls home and in the greenhouse with me, helping mom with the planting, moving, and seeding.






Growing The Best Blueberries ... Organically


Growing your own blueberries makes so much sense! They are easy to grow and take up little space. The investment to buy and grow a few shrubs is really low, especially when compared with the price of that teeny, tiny, little, plastic clam shell of berries you find at the local grocers!

However, you need to know that planting just one shrub or even several shrubs of the same variety will not provide you with much fruit as they are not that fertile on their own.
For best production and cross pollination, you will need to have two or even three different varieties of blueberries.

We are growing about 24 plants on a sunny berm in the back potager. We chose four or five different varieties to promote better cross pollination and thus get more fruit, plus, as some are early, some mid and some late season fruiting, we extended the harvest season, as well! More fruit and for a longer period of time, win win.  

1. Prepping the planting hole...

For the sweetest fruit and most production please choose a warm, sunny location with good access to water.

Blueberries need acidic soil, great drainage, and lots of organic matter in order to thrive and fruit well.

Acidic soil means a pH value of 4.5 to 5.5. If your soil is sweeter than that the shrub will be unable to take up the nutrients from the soil and you will have yellowing branches and foliage, plus little to no berries.
Have an area where rhodos and azaleas thrive? Are deep green in colour? Then you also have the perfect pH for blueberries.

Soil pH can be checked with an inexpensive kit available at most garden centres. You simply put a bit of soil into the vial, add some water, shake and let sit a few minutes, compare the colour of the solution in the vial against the colour card provided, and you will have a good approximate of your pH.

Dig a large hole for your plant, about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. Blueberries have shallow roots, so this has the organic matter in the top layers where the roots have easy access to them. If you are planting several shrubs, it is recommended that you either dig a wide trench or make a raised bed to house the plants in order to get the best results.

Add soil conditioners to the hole that are acidic, like composted pine or fir bark (sold in bags just like bark mulch), peat moss, pine needles, or leaf mould. Mix these conditioners with the soil that you removed from the hole. You might also be able to find a potting mix that is specially blended for acid loving plants, such as rhodos, etc...
The shredded, composted pine bark mulch adds great drainage plus amends and acidifies the soil as it breaks down. The peat moss or acidic potting mix provides the acidic soil conditioner and so the best 'soil' for your blueberries. Thus, the perfect mix for your planting hole contains both of these ingredients. 
I would not use manure but compost is always a fabulous soil conditioner and great for top dressing/mulching around the shrubs.

OR...

Plant Your Blueberries in a Pot or Planter

If you do not have an ideal location, blueberries grow very well in pots and are also very attractive to look at. They have small glossy foliage, deep green in summer and red in fall, white or pink flowers in spring and summer, hopefully followed by loads of fruit. Very beautiful!

Again, you want to have acidic soil...
You would use the same conditioners mentioned above, do not use garden soil in pots or planters, it is too heavy, not porous enough and so you will have root rot issues.
The ideal mix would be contain shredded bark in an acidic potting mix, however just the potting mix will work as well.

Plant a one gallon shrub into a pot that is at least 12" to 14" wide. A two gallon shrub should go into a pot that is at least 18" to 20" wide.

2 Mulching

Mulching your blueberries is highly recommended as it helps to retain moisture and keep the roots cool. It also keeps away weeds which is important as the blueberry has a shallow root system and is not good at competing with weeds for food and water.
The mulch should be topped up every two to three years, as it continues to break down, adding more organic matter to the soil, and thus helping it to stay fertile and acidic.
A mulch of three to six inches is best, but do not mulch the base/crown of the shrub itself or you will get stem rot and lose your plant. The mulch should be covering the feeder root system, keeping it cool and moist, so covers the entire lovely huge hole you made for your blueberry to grow into.
What to use for mulch? Composted pine or fir bark, pine needles, coffee grounds, compost, leaf mould....

3. Feeding

You should test your soil pH and N-P-K every year preferably, but every two to three years for sure.
If your soil is getting too sweet, add more of the acidic soil conditioners listed above, like composted bark and leaf moulds, etc... as a top dressing. These will amend the soil as they break down.
Throw down a handful of nitrogen to the top of the soil each spring, in the form or blood meal or cottonseed  meal.
Liquefied kelp or seaweed applied as a foliar spray once or twice a year is also a great organic fertiliser.
Compost makes a great top dressing, esp if mixed with coffee grounds or pine needles, etc... which are acidic.

4 Watering

Blueberries will suffer quickly from drought as they have such shallow root systems and are thus unable to dig deep for water.
They need at least an inch of water each week, and should have a good 3 to 6 inch layer of mulch to retain the moisture. As with all things, avoid watering the foliage, keeping the water at ground level, in order to prevent diseases.
Water is most important during fruit set (when you see the flowers) thru your harvest time, and then again in fall as that is when they set buds for next years fruit.
Potted berries will need water more often, watering as often as they dry out, depending on the elements.

5. Pruning  

You will not need to do any pruning for the first 3 years unless you have some damaged branches to remove.
After that, you will want to prune once a year, in late winter, for best fruiting.
Begin by removing any canes that are 5 years old and cut back the rest of the branches by about 1/3. Remove any week, little twiggy growth and suckers, plus any branches that have a lot of greying or other discolouration on them. 
You will want to have 6 to 12 good pencil sized canes on a mature shrub.

6. Picking/Harvesting

The fruit will ripen over a two to five week period. Wait till the berries have turned a deep blue in colour and continue to pick as they ripen.
Your shrub should not fruit the first year that you plant it, in fact you should ideally remove flowers from the shrub as they form, allowing it to set a great root system in that first year.
Afterwards, you will get more and more berries as your shrub grows and matures. You shrubs will continue to fruit for about 20 years.

7. Issues

Blueberries are actually fairly pest and disease free. Your biggest issue will likely be the birds as they enjoy the delicious fruits as much as we do. This is easily handled by covering the shrub with berry netting.

Spraying your shrubs with a dormant oil/sulfer spray in late winter when you spray your fruit trees and rose bushes is a good way to prevent any pest or disease issues.

Recommended varieties for our area..
Early fruiting - Duke, Patriot, Spartan, Reka
Mid-season fruiting - Chippewa, Blue Crop, Northland, Hardi-Blue, Blueray
Late Season Fruiting - Elliot


   


Monday, 11 February 2013

How To Root Cuttings

Here's a quick and easy how-to for rooting most cuttings...

What you need...

A good soil-less potting mix -
- There are many different kinds on the market to choose from. I like to use one that says HP on the side, which stands for high porosity. Seeding mixes are a good choice as they tend to be higher in porosity, however, any soil less potting mix will work.
There are also some that have mycorrhizea added to them, which is a real bonus as it helps the plant make more feeder roots faster.
Some folks also use straight perlite, which is nice and porous for good root development and retains moisture well.

A good size pot to hold several cuttings -
-Generally, a 6" plastic pot is the best choice for depth and size, however, you can use smaller ones, or any vessel that is at least 4" deep and 4" wide, and has drainage holes.
Much as I adore terra cotta, they are much too porous and dry out too quickly to use for this purpose.

Exacto knife
- Comes in handy if you are working with a cutting that is rather woody and tough. Otherwise just fingers for pinching.

Pruners or shears
- For taking the cuttings from the mother plant.

Dibber/Dibble
- Or pencil, pen, stick, etc.. for making a hole to stick your cutting into.

My 'dibber' is an old green marker that I was using at the last nursery I worked at many years ago. I still use this same 'dibber' all the time. Good size for my hand, good point on it, good width.  Is not pretty, is not fancy, but it works : )

My tools of the trade...not pretty but they are well used and do the trick.
 


Rooting Powder (optional)
- There are three types of rooting hormone
#1 for soft tissue cuttings (fuchsias, geraniums, etc..)
#2 for semi-woody cuttings ( rosemary, most houseplants and tropicals, etc... )
#3 for hard-wood cuttings ( roses, cedar, grapes, etc...)

Rooting powders

Plastic Bag or Pop Bottle Top
- You will need a clear plastic bag that fits snugly around the top of the pot or that can be elastic banded or tied with string into place snugly. The top half of a two litre pop bottle would also create a good humidity tent, or dome over the cuttings.

This Sweet Bay Laurel cutting was taken 5 months ago.
See how the leaves were cut in half as they were so large?
This one has rooted and is now in it's own pot, but bay's take a really long time to start to make new leaves.
This one does however already have the new leaves forming in the crotch of the old foliage : )
 
How to Go About It ...

1. Fill pot with potting mix, do not push it in but lightly tamp the soil in with the bottom of a drinking glass, your fingers, etc...

2. Water the pot so that the soil is damp but not soggy.

3. Use pruners to take cuttings from the mother plant. You want to have a 4" to 6" stem if possible, however some things are smaller so, take the longest that you can. Cut just below a leaf node as that is where the roots will begin to grow from.
Do not use the really woody part of  the plant, but instead the side shoots, the branches, the tips, which are green and pliable ( think rosemary, geraniums, fuchsias, etc...) Do not take a cutting from a flowering tip as they will not root in, even if you remove the flower.



4. Remove all but the top two or three leaves. This is where you may need to use the exacto knife if the leaves are tough, like with a Sweet Bay Laurel. Rosemary can just be stripped carefully with your fingers and the 'leaves' used for your cooking. Geraniums and fuchsias, etc... you can just pinch the leaves off with your finger nails.

5. If the leaves are really big, you will want to cut them in half, like the Sweet Bay or Hydrangea ...

6. Cut the bottom of the stem onto an angle, this is where the exacto also comes in handy.

This Bay has smaller leaves so they do not need to be cut in half.
Cut the bottom on an angle to have more surface for the rooting powder to stick. 

7. You may need to dip your stems into water in order to get the rooting hormone to stick. Then dip into the rooting hormone. I do not ever just stick the cutting into the bottle but instead put some powder into a small dish, plate, cap, lid, etc.. to avoid contamination.

Dip your stems into rooting powder and lightly tap on the side to knock off the excess. 

8. Use your dibber to make a deep hole in the pot for the cutting. Put your cutting into the hole to just below the lowest leaf, about 1/3 to 1/2 of the cutting should be under ground. For 6 inch cuttings, place them 2 to 3 inches into the pot. Push the soil firmly into place around the stem.
You can place many cuttings into the same pot as long as they are not touching each other.

Geranium cuttings.. you can place in as many as want in the same pot as long as they do not touch each other.
Put them deep into the pot, to the last node. 

9. Water once again.

10. Cover with clear plastic bag, then tie or band into place if it does not fit snug and tight to keep in the humidity.

 


11. Place into a bright location, though not in direct sunlight for 2 to 3 weeks. You will likely not need to water during that time at all, but if you see that your soil looks like it might be getting dry, remove the plastic, water, and replace cover. Bottom heat speeds up the process but is not necessary.

12 In two weeks time, begin to check your cuttings carefully for rooting. Gently pull upwards on the cutting. If you meet with good resistance, it has formed good roots, slight resistance, means it is well on it's way and needs about another week, and no resistance means no roots have yet formed so re-cover and leave for another week. Do not pull so hard that the cutting comes out of the pot, just check gently for resistance.

13. When they have formed good roots, you can remove the plastic and leave until you have time to pot them up.  The gently use your dibber to loosen the soil around the new root system and lift the newly rooted cutting from the pot to be replanted into it's own pot.


 


  Sweet Bay in front two pots have rooted in now. 
Geranium cuttings in the back have begun to form new leaves.
 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Quick Spring Fix

So, finally got really tired of my winter planters. Been the same for way too long.

Wanted a quick and fairly inexpensive fix asap!

Here is a close up of the winter urns....
Some winter heather, a golden cypress, draping hemlock, cedar, and fir branches, plus pine cones and decor.  
 
 
A pic from farther away....

Got tired of these guys, been looking at them since November, time to go....

 
Removed the draping branches of hemlock, fir and cedar... threw them on the compost heap ...
Put away the pine cones on stakes for use again next year.
 
Planted up the heather into the garden, on the berm with all the other heathers from Christmas planters past ; )
 
 
Choose your favourite grocery store or garden centre forced bulbs...
 I chose tulips, little mini tete a' tete daffodils, grape hyacinths and hyacinths.  
 
Cute little Tete a Tete daffodils.
 

 
Then added some hyacinths, they look like they will be purple ones as the bulbs are dark and purple.
Also added some muscari, or grape hyacinths. They are not blooming yet but will add a lovely burst of blue as the sun begins to shine and heats up the soil.  

 
Covered the soil with a bit of moss and voila... an instant spring planter.
These blooms will all open up in just a few days, especially if we were to get a couple of sunny days.
However, is still a great improvement to me, no more winter...


 

Welcoming spring....

A white mini Rose tinged with green edges
Bellis (English Daisies) and a red Primula 
 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Seeding How-To

Here are the basic steps that one should follow for starting pretty near any kinds of seeds...

You will need these things...

A good soiless mix medium to plant your seeds into -
There are many different one on the market to choose from or you can just use a regular soil less potting mix. However, seedling mixes tend to be a bit higher in porosity, meaning that they provide a better airflow to the root system as the mix contains higher amounts of perlite ... so less chance of issues like damping off.
There are also mixes with moisture beads and although I have never used them, I do not recommend them for seeding purposes as I would worry about a higher risk of damping off. It is also much more expensive!

A tray or shallow pot to plant your seeds into -
You can use Styrofoam cups, egg shells, small pots, seed trays, margarine containers, anything that has drainage holes or that drainage holes can be put into.
Is best if they are not too deep.

Seeds - of course :)

Labels, markers, stick tags - for marking down what is growing in each pot and the date that you started them.
I always put the name of the plant and the date that I seeded them. It helps to keep track of whether or not the seed is viable, how long it took to germinate, and for simple record keeping. My memory, though I like to think that it is great, is not always as infallible as I would like to think ; )

Plastic Wrap or bags, cling wrap, etc...
To cover the pot and keep in humidity and moisture which helps the seeds germinate quickly and keeps them from drying out.



1. First of all, fill tray or pot with soiless mix. Do not pack it in, but lightly tamp it in to make sure it is not too loose. Then water it well, not till dripping, but till damp throughout.

2. Take your seeds and place them into the tray. Read the package directions to see what the requirements are. However, in general, the seed is covered to a depth of 3 times the seed size. So if your seed is small, 1mm in size, then you cover it with 3 mm of soil mix. Some seeds require light to germinate, in which case, you do not cover them at all. Some seeds require dark to germinate, in which case, you would cover them with cardboard, dark plastic, etc.. to prevent light from getting to them. A good seed company will tell you on the back of the package if there are any of these out of the ordinary requirements.

Note - If the seeds are large, like artichoke, pea, bean, etc.. you may want to plant each seed into an individual pot or 1 per pot in a 6 pack.
If seeds are smaller, like tomato, cucumber, etc.. you may want to plant 2 seeds into a pot or 6 pack pot, and then cut out one at the base if both germinate.
Otherwise, small seeds are often started in one pot and then the seedlings are transferred to a larger pot after they germinate.

3. Water again. I use a very light spray, almost like a mister at this point, as you do not want to uncover your seeds. Others will place the pot/tray into a sink of water and let the water soak in from the bottom.

4. Place on a heating mat, or on a refrigerator, something that produces bottom heat.
Some seeds like onions, leeks, cabbage, peas, etc... do not need bottom heat as they prefer the cooler temps and germinate better off of the heat.

Here I have used clear garbage bags to cover the seeds until they germinate. 

5. Cover the seed tray with a plastic bag or plastic wrap to keep in moisture and humidity.

Here plastic bags are pulled over the pots to provide humidity till the seeds germinate,
or in this case, until the cuttings take root. 

6. Check daily to see if the seeds have sprouted or if it needs more water.

7. As soon as you see that some of the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic covering and take the pot off of the bottom heat. They do not all need to have sprouted, just a few. The others will continue to sprout even though they are off the heat.

Place in a cooler yet bright location like a sun room, bright window,etc... or place under grow lights in a cool room. Rotate the seed pot regularly if placed in a window. I also like to brush the tops of the seedlings with my flat hand, feel that this makes them stronger.

After seeds germinate, remove them from the bottom heat and place in a cool yet bright location...

8. After the seedlings have germinated, begin to fertilise with a half strength solution of liquid kelp or seaweed till they have at least two full leaves. Then begin to give full strength fertiliser. I find that a foliar feed is more effective with the liquid seaweed or kelp than it is to water the soil with the solution.

Organic fertiliser's... I use the Liquid Seaweed at half strength on the seedlings.  

Foliar feed means to spray the fertiliser onto the foliage of the plant.

9. Transplant your seedlings into their own larger pot or six pack pocket to grow on in size.

10. As weather warms up and seedlings have sizes up, begin to harden them off. This means acclimate them to being outdoors. even if you have had them in a bright greenhouse or sun room, window, etc... they still need to be hardened off as the sun is harsher outdoors.
I begin by placing them under a table or bench so that they only received dappled light. I start with an hour or two for a few days, upping up the time till they are fully acclimated.