Starting plants from seeds really isn't that hard once you know the basics of what a seed needs to germinate and grow enough to be transplanted. In this Quick Guide for Starting Seeds, I'll share with you the basics to get you going. These are tips for starting seeds indoors, whether you're planning your fall garden or next season.
When to Plant the Seeds
Check your seed packets for the days to maturity for information about when to plant your seeds indoors. Count backward from when you want your crops harvested using this value.
Most seeds benefit from a good long soak before planting. The germination rate is increased, and the germination time is shortened.
Seeds can be started in small containers, moved to larger ones, or transplanted outside. Use seed starter kits, cardboard egg cartons, tray inserts, or reused plastic nursery pots that have been cleaned and sanitized.
Start with a good sterile seed starting mix that retains moisture and is lightweight. Jiffy Peat Pellets, coconut coir, netted pellets, or Minute Soil+ are great options. The soil should be damp before seeds are planted.
Some plants need as much as 16-18 hours of light per day to grow. Once the seedlings emerge from the soil, the plant will need access to light to grow healthy and strong. We use led grow lights, but many people find that standard strip lights work just fine.
Soil temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F are ideal for most plants. You may want to consider using heating mats for your plants or keeping them in a room where it's warm. A temperature of about 10 degrees cooler is usually recommended after germination.
The seedlings need consistent watering to thrive. Water directly on the soil's surface rather than on the leaves. The soil should have the consistency of a damp sponge. The plant will wilt if it doesn't receive enough water.
During warmer weather (above 45 degrees), you may want to put your baby plants in the ground or on the porch. Plants should be gradually introduced to the outdoors. This step of gradually introducing them to their new environment is called hardening off.
You are ready to transplant when your plants are strong enough and have been sufficiently hardened off, and it is safe to plant them outdoors (according to your seeds’ planting instructions). Ensure your garden soil is well prepared and you have amended your soil if needed.
I hope you found our Quick Guide for Starting Seeds helpful. If you're looking for even more detailed information, check out our gardening section of the website. If you still have questions, let me know in the comments section below or contact me in our private Facebook group.