Reporter’s notebook: Tulsa Botanic Garden encourages mini greenhouse planting

Gardening can be a tricky endeavor. Each plant requires different conditions to survive and produce.

That is why the “I Can’t Start Seeds” workshop conducted by the Tulsa Botanic Garden at Tulsa Community College (TCC) Center for Creativity was very helpful.

The participants of the workshop learn to plant seeds in clear plastic mini greenhouse containers.  Photo by Tatyana Nyborg.

A group of interested locals gathered for the tutorial provided by the Tulsa Botanic Garden curator, Ellen Weatherholt. They began learning gardening by putting soil into clear salad containers, which served as mini seed starting greenhouses.

First, Weatherholt advised to make rows in the dirt and put labels for each plant.

“Plant your seeds about a half inch deep,” she explained. “Allow about one or two inches in between varieties. Your seeds need room to grow.”

“Press the soil down evenly,” the curator continued. “In the beginning, no fertilizer is required.”

“When you take your mini greenhouse home, put it by the window facing north,” Weatherholt said. “Keep it from direct light. South facing windows can cook your seedlings!”

The mini greenhouse must be covered with a clear lid, but not sealed completely to keep the soil from losing moisture too quickly.

Tulsa Botanic Garden curator, Ellen Weatherholt, conducts “I Can’t Start Seeds” workshop at the Tulsa Community College Center for Creativity. Photo by Tatyana Nyborg.

Weatherholt spent at least five minutes explaining how to water plants because it is very important.

“Don’t water every day when the plants are small, or they can die. Seeds are essentially asleep when they are planted.” she said. “Once your seeds start to grow, check them for water every day, as they will need to be watered more frequently.”

The Tulsa Botanic Garden specialist stated that the last day someone usually expects frost in Oklahoma is April 15.

After that, if the seedlings begin to outgrow the mini greenhouse, they are moved to a sheltered porch, patio, or another shady location outside.

“The seedlings need a good shade to adjust to the sunshine,” Weatherholt said. “Keep checking them for water, they will be using more water as they grow.”

“Give the plants about a week or two in the shade, and they will be tough enough to plant in your garden, or in a container on your patio,” the curator advised.

As it was mentioned, the plants are all different. Beets and swiss chards are spring planted, for example. Someone has to start the beet seeds indoors on March 1, and for outdoor planting on April 15.

Green beans, basil, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers are summer planted.

The green beans must be planted directly into the garden soil after April 15. The green beans do not need a greenhouse.

“Start tomato, basil, and pepper seeds in March, for April 15 or May outdoor planting,” Weatherholt said.

“Eggplant seeds should be planted indoors on April 15, for May 22 outdoor moving,” she adds.

Eggplants and peppers love summer heat.

A gardener should keep in mind that some plants become bushy and must be given enough space to grow. For instance, tomatoes must stay 12 inches away from each other and be supported by a tomato cage.

For more information on gardening, check Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the Tulsa Botanic Garden. You can send photos of your harvest to the Botanic Garden.