Seed starting: a step by step guide

Seeds are chosen, and your inner gardener is calling out to them to get ready to start growing!

Here are few tips to get ready for planting seeds indoors.

Starting seeds indoors is a rewarding and wonderful way to get a head start on your garden. It will give you earlier vegetables and flowers, and it gives you the opportunity to have a bigger choice of what you plant.

The process of germination may seem complex, but the act of seed planting is reassuringly simple. Just take it step-by-step, and you’ll soon be watching over a healthy crop of seedlings.

March is a little early to start your seeds but it’s a good time to start collecting what you will need to plant.

First decide where you will have your pots sitting while the seeds germinate. Perhaps a window ledge that doesn’t have drafts, or a small table that you can cover and put near a window. You can also put them under a light once the seeds germinate if they aren’t near a good light source. You should also assemble your equipment, which should include seed-starting containers, starting medium or soil mix, a watering can, labels, a marking pen, and seed packets.

Choosing Containers

You can start seeds in almost any kind of container that will hold 1 to 2 inches of starting medium and that won’t become easily waterlogged. Once seedlings form more roots and develop their true leaves, though, they grow best in containers that provide more space for root growth and have holes for drainage. You can choose to start your seeds in containers that have the extra space. Square or rectangular containers make better use of space and provide more root area than round ones do. You can reuse your seedling containers for many years if they are made of plastic or another durable container. To prevent problems with dampening off, you may want to sanitize your pots at the end of the season by washing them in soapy water and rinsing them in water with vinegar in it.

Seed Starting and Potting Mixes

Seeds contain enough nutrients to nourish themselves through sprouting, so a seed-starting mix does not have to contain nutrients. It should be free of weed seeds and toxic substances, hold moisture well, and provide plenty of air spaces. Don’t use plain garden soil to start seedlings; it may harden into a dense mass that delicate young roots can’t penetrate. You can make your own soil mixture or get a prepared soil at a garden shop or hardware store. Mixing your own soil is not difficult, mix potting soil, perlite, and some peat moss to make a fairly light mixture that will hold water without drying too quickly or getting and staying too soggy.

Sowing Your Seeds

A good rule of thumb for the planting depth of each different seed is to plant the seeds to a depth of three times their thickness. Cover them by carefully sprinkling them with light, dry potting soil or seed-starting medium. Don’t cover seeds that need light to germinate (check the seed packet for special germination requirements). Instead, gently pat the surface of the mix so the seeds and mix have good contact.

Write a label for each kind of seed you plant and put it in the pot as soon as the seeds are planted, before any mix-ups occur.

Set the pots in shallow containers of water and let them soak until the surface of the planting medium looks moist. Or you can gently mist the mix. If you water from the top, use a watering can with a rose nozzle to get a gentle stream that won’t wash the seeds out of place.

You can cover the containers, using clear plastic for seeds that need light, or black plastic, damp newspaper, or burlap for those that prefer the dark. Uncover the pots as soon as you see little sprouts popping through the soil.

These are the basics for sowing the precious seeds you have chosen. Now the training begins… the teaching of patience is a seed’s claim to fame. So patiently wait and watch your little seedlings grow. When the ground is warm, the time is right move your little darlings into your garden space. Above all, relish the joy of getting food and flowers that you and your family grew right from the chosen seeds. Happy planting!

Related Posts