Park Seed Frequently Asked Questions
Does Park sell GMO's or treated seeds? It is important for our customers to know that Park Seed does not sell GMO or treated seed. We do buy a small amount of traditional hybrid seed from Seminis, a division of Monsanto Co., but that is all we purchase from them.
What are the differences between organic, heirloom, and hybrid seed?
Basically, organic seeds are seeds that are produced without the use and exposure to artificial/chemical fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other chemicals. They have to be grown, harvested, stored, and handled under very strict organic rules and procedures. All of our organic seeds are USDA 100% certified organic through Clemson University and the certificate has to be renewed yearly.
Heirloom Seeds are open-pollinated -- they are not hybrids. You can gather and save heirloom seed from year to year and they will grow true to type every year, so they can be passed down through generations. To be considered an heirloom, a variety would have to be at least from the 1940's and 3 generations old (many varieties are much older -- some 100 years or more!).
Hybrid seed are the product of cross-pollination between 2 different parent plants, resulting in a new plant/seed that is different from the parents. Unlike Heirloom seed, hybrid seed need to be re-purchased new every year (and not saved). They usually will not grow true to type if you save them, but will revert to one of the parents they were crossed with and most likely look/taste different in some way.
What are pelleted seeds? How do I handle/sow them? And why pelleted? Extremely small seed such as Petunias and Pentas are shipped as pelleted seed to make them easier to handle and sow. Pelleted seed are coated with an inert clay-like substance to make them larger in size. Pelleted seeds are shipped in vials placed inside seed packets, which protects them from being crushed. After sowing, the coating will absorb water and the seed will germinate, bursting through the softened coat. When sowing, make sure to get the seeds firmly nested in very moist soil. This will ensure that the clay coating absorbs enough moisture to soften and let the seed germinate. Misting the seeds with water after you sow will help to ensure that there is enough moisture to dissolve the seed coating. Always follow the specific sowing instructions on your seed packet. For example, when sowing pelleted Petunia seeds, place the seeds directly on the soil surface and do not cover with soil, as light aids in the germination.
What is ideal temperature to germinate most seeds?
The ideal temperature to germinate most seeds is approximately 70 degrees F; give or take 1-2 degrees either way. This would be a good germination temperature for most flower and vegetable seeds and would be the most practical and feasible temperatures achieved for gardeners starting seeds in the home. You will notice for some seeds that it is recommended to use alternating day (warmer), night (cooler), temperatures, which is fine if one can provide such conditions. But most people are unable to provide those temperatures in a home setting, so just use the overall 70 degree F recommendation and the seeds should germinate well.
How long should grow lights be kept on per day and how close to the plants should the light be kept?
For germination and seedling/plant growth, you want to simulate the natural day-night cycles, and as a general rule, grow lights should be on 8-12 hours per day and off at night. You can vary this timing, as some seeds such as tomato, pepper, petunia, impatiens, and others, benefit from 14-17 hours of light per day (and the remainder of the 24 hour period in darkness). The most common grow lights used are fluorescent; using cool white, warm white, and wide-spectrum fluorescent tubes. These lights work well for germination and for growing plants up to a transplantable size. Fluorescent lights should be kept close though, 3-6 inches above the soil or the growing plants, adjusting the height as the plants grow.
How much water should be put in the Bio Dome and how often? The beauty of the Bio Dome is that you cannot overwater! You just keep water in the tray and float the block. The larger the seedlings get, the more water they will use and you will need to add water more frequently as they grow. Initially, during germination, you may not have to water as frequently, because minimal water is being used and Bio Sponges will stay moist longer, so you may only have to water once every 1-2 weeks. Later, as plants grow and water use is greater, depending on the room temperature and the amount of light received, you may have to water more often -- possibly 1-2 times a week -- or as often as required to keep the sponges moist.
What are the differences between the various Bio Domes: 60-cell, 40-cell, and 18-cell?
The original 60-cell Bio Dome has a 60-cell planting block with 60 Bio Sponges and will produce 60 plants at one time. The 1" wide by 2 ¼" deep cells are larger than average, and a spacious 1 3/8" apart. The bio-sponges are the same size as the cells; 1" wide by 2 1/4" deep. You can grow and keep plants in the 60-cell bio-dome for 6-8 weeks before transplanting. Many varieties will just need 6 weeks until transplanting. Tomatoes and peppers would appreciate the full 8 weeks before transplanting. So, the original 60-cell bio-dome would be great for starting all of your favorite vegetable and flower seeds, with a larger number of plants produced at one time.
The 40-cell Bio Dome has a 40-cell jumbo planting block with 40 Bio Sponges and will produce 40 plants at one time. The cells are wider and deeper than the original 60-cell planting block and provide good spacing to maximize air flow. The cells are 1 1/4" wide by 2 1/2" deep. The Bio Sponges are also 1 1/4" wide by 2 1/2" deep. You can grow and keep plants in the 40-cell bio-dome for at least 6-8 weeks and some for up to 9-10 weeks, because of the wider spacing and cell/sponge size. It too would be excellent for starting all your favorite vegetable and flower seeds, with the added benefit of giving more room and time for larger plant development.
The 18-cell Bio Dome has an 18-cell whopper planting block with 18 Bio Sponges and will produce 18 plants at one time. It has the largest cells of any of the Bio Domes we offer and is great for growing extra-stocky transplants and even for rooting cuttings. The cells are 3" tall by 1 3/4" wide. The Bio Sponges are also 3" tall by 1 3/4" wide. You can grow and keep plants in the 18-cell Bio Dome for at least 8-10 weeks and some for up to 12 weeks, giving the maximum amount of growing time and spacing between plants as compared to the 60-cell and 40-cell Bio Domes. If you are looking to grow your favorite vegetable and flower seeds into large, stocky transplants for setting out in spring, then the 18-cell Bio Dome is the one you want to buy. It would be excellent for growing Tomatoes and Peppers.
How long will seeds keep in storage?
Park Seed stores seed in a special temperature- and humidity-controlled storage facility, which keeps seeds in excellent condition. Our seeds should be good for at least 1-2 years on average. Seed viability and storage time will vary depending on the seed item; some will keep a shorter time and some will keep longer. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. A basement will do (if not too humid), or a cool, dark room or closet. We recommend the best way to extend seed storage life is to store them in something air tight, such as a plastic zipper storage bag or canning jar, and place it in the refrigerator. This will extend the life of seeds for many years.
What is the best way to store seeds over a longer time period?
We recommend the best way to extend seed storage life is to store seeds in something air tight, such as a plastic zipper storage bag or canning jar, and place it in the refrigerator. This will extend the life of seeds for many years.
What depth should I sow various seeds?
When sowing seed outdoors, we recommend a maximum planting depth of 4X the width of the seed. When sowing seed indoors, the planting depth can be less, depending on the seed being sown, so it is always best to check specific directions. Here are some general guidelines concerning planting depth in relation to seed size: Tiny, dust-like seeds need to be sown on the surface of the growing medium or soil, uncovered, as they need light to germinate. The planting depth for small seed can be anywhere from barely covering, to 1/8-inch deep, to possibly 1/4-inch deep, depending on the recommendation. Medium seed should be planted at 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep, depending on the recommendation. Larger seeds can be planted 1-inch or deeper, depending on the recommendation.
Which Marigold is the most effective to use against nematodes?
The most effective Marigold for controlling root nematodes is Golden Guardian, killing 99% of them over a 3-month period, which is even better than chemical pesticides (and of course, much safer). Nematodes live in the soil, feeding on and damaging the roots of tomatoes, okra, and other vegetables, resulting in reduced growth, wilted yellowing plants, and poor yields. Interplant Golden Guardian in dense rows with your vegetables to protect them.
Which plants should I grow to repel insects?
Many of the herbs will repel insects. Pennyroyal repels fleas and other insects. Pyrethrum repels moths, flies, ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, mites, and bedbugs. Mint repels flies, fleas, and ants. Lavender repels flies, silverfish, and fleas. Catnip can repel mosquitoes. Thyme repels insects. Lemon Grass repels mosquitoes. Basil repels flies and mosquitoes. Sage repels a variety of insects. Chrysanthemum, grown for its beautiful flowers and for the extraction of pyrethrin (an organic insecticide), repels flies, beetles, mosquitoes, roaches, lice, and fleas.
Which plants should I grow to repel rabbits and deer?
Planting garlic, onions, chives, lavender, rosemary, and sage around rabbit-susceptible plants will repel rabbits. Deer repellent plants include: lavender, onion, catnip, sage, chives, garlic, spearmint, and thyme. Be sure to strategically place these repellent plants around and in between rabbit and deer-susceptible plants. Also, place some along the property line and especially at key points the rabbits and deer are using as entryways, which can even deter them from coming onto your property.
Which of your plants offered are deer resistant? Perennials that are deer resistant include: Asclepias, Aster, Baptisia, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Digitalis, Echinacea, Gaillardia, Heuchera, Hibiscus, Malva, Monarda, Oriental Poppy, Platycodon, Peony, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedum, and Tricyrtis. Shrubs include: Buddleia, Buxus, Cotoneaster, Daphne, Forsythia, Fothergilla, Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon), Potentilla, Spiraea, Syringa, and Viburnum. Vines include: Clematis, Honeysuckle, Campsis, Wisteria, and Climbing Hydrangea. Trees include: Acer (Maple), Cercis (Redbud), Corylus, Fagus (Beech), Magnolia, Ginkgo, Mulberry, Spruce, and Salix (Willow).
How many years before fruiting plants bear first crop: blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, fig, etc.?
For fruiting plants such as blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, fig, honeyberry, cranberry, and grape, it takes 2 years to bear the first crop. That does not mean you may not get some fruit before then. Depending on the size and maturity of the plant shipped, you may get at least a few pieces of fruit or a small quantity produced the first year. But, by the second year, you should have your first real crop of fruit to enjoy and fruit production will increase every year thereafter.