You CAN start seeds at home! (Part 2)
Part 2: Let’s start some seeds!
Check out our previous post (link) to find out what equipment you need to get seeds started inside. Already good on equipment? Then let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Step 1: Choose your seeds
I could write a whole post (or three) on selecting plants and seeds for your garden, but this is not the place for that. Let’s just say that you should spend your time thinking about what you want to grow (and eventually eat) and which seeds you’ll be planning to start inside. Your peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants should be started inside for best results. Many other plants may also benefit from being started indoors. Read your seed packets for specific instructions
Step 2: Dedicate your space
Your seed starting operation needs a dedicated space in your home. The space should either be in a warm south facing window or under a light in a warm place or with a heat mat. Make sure your plants won’t be disturbed by any of your family or housemates (including pets).
Step 3: Prepare your soil and containers
It’s not just as simple as putting soil in your containers and planting seeds. It’s important that you water your soil after you add it to your containers. You want the soil to be a little wet before you add your seeds. I use a set of plastic cells that sit in another plastic container (pictured below). In order to moisten my soil I add water to the bottom tray and let everything sit overnight. In the morning the soil in the cells is ready for planting. Do whatever works for you and your set-up but be sure that you aren’t planting seeds into dry soil.
Step 4: Prepare your lights
If you’re using lights, now is the time to check that they are working and set any timer you might want to use. Position your lights just a few inches from the surface of the soil to start. You can raise the light as your plants grow!
Step 5: Plant your seeds!
Once again, read your seed packets for specific instructions, some seeds like to be on top of the soil, some need to be presoaked. In general though you’ll add 2-3 seeds to each container, cover the seeds gently with a thin layer of soil, and then add a little more water. Adding water from the bottom or with a spray bottle helps to keep the seeds in place.
Step 6: Wait and Watch
Now you just need to keep your seeds watered and wait! Depending on what seeds you chose you may have sprouts in just a few days although some seeds may take 10-14 days. Check on your seeds every day and make any adjustments they might need. Add water, raise your light, or reposition them if needed. If more than one seed sprouts in each container you will have to clip one of them - use a small snip vs. trying to pull it out as it may disturb it’s healthier neighbor. Pick the sturdiest looking shoot. This may not be the tallest.
Also, if you have some plants that will need to be inside for six full weeks like tomatoes and peppers you may need to move them to bigger pots after a few weeks. Remove them gently from their small pots and tuck them in with moist soil.
Step 7: Time to move outside
When it’s time to move your seedlings outside (again reference the seed packet for when might be a good time for each individual plant) it’s important to remember that these plant babies have grown up inside and will need a little bit of time to adjust to the more variable outdoor environment. You can do this by setting your seedlings outside in a shady, protected area for a few hours each day (for about a week) before finally moving them into their final homes. This process is called hardening off.
And then, you’ve done it! You’ve grown plants from seeds...