Are you a beginner gardener? If the answer is ‘YES’, then you might want to read some tips for avoiding the most common mistakes when starting seeds. By doing so, you can have more fun while raising your plants. 🙂
(1). Why Do We Need to Start Plants from Seeds?
Why start plants from seeds when you can simply buy them from a local garden nursery? There are several benefits to indoor seed starting, including variety, timing, and availability. Starting with seeds allows us to have more options, try rare or unusual seeds, save money, and enjoy gardening more.
(2). Choose the Right Seeds for Your Garden:
Before you start planting your garden, the first thing you need to decide is which type of seeds you want to plant. Once you have decided on the plants you want to grow – be it vegetables, flowers, or herbs – and you have obtained the seeds, it is important to read the seed instructions carefully.
To help you with this, you may want to watch the video tutorial and read the detailed article “How to Choose the Best Seeds for Your Garden” by Empress of Dirt.”
(3). Starting Seeds at the Right Time:
Check your seed packet for the recommended time to plant. It is important to take your climate zone into consideration. Ideally, to maximize your chances of success, you can use a moon calendar to determine the best timing.
How to Find Your Frost Dates and Hardiness Zone:
Use the Frost Dates Calculator available at Almanac.com. Simply enter your city and state or province to find out your first and last frost dates, as well as the number of frost-free days.
Check your seed packet for the recommended time to plant. Seed packets often include information about plant hardiness zones.
(4). Step-by-Step Tips for Seed Starting:
ONCE YOU HAVE PREPARED THE SEEDS, YOU WILL BEGIN TO PREPARE THE SUPPLIES.
1. First, check the seed packet for the recommended use-by date.
2. You need to prepare clean and sanitized seed trays, pots, and containers.
How To Clean Them:
I wash mine in a tub of mild dish soap, rinse thoroughly, and then soak in a solution of 1-part bleach and 9-parts water for two minutes. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before use.
Instead Of Buying Them From a Store, You Can Also DIY Pots and Seed Trays:
1). DIY Pots for Starting Seeds:
#1. Repurpose plastic containers as mini greenhouses to start seeds:
Image Source: singingasongofsixpence.blogspot.com
#2. Make Newspaper Seed-Starter Pots:
Check out the full tutorial here: learningandyearning.com
#3. Convert K-Cups Into Starter Pots for Spring Planting:
#4. Use Toilet Paper Rolls to Start Your Plants:
See the full instructions here: ourwabisabilife.com
#5. Repurposed Loofah Sponge as Seed Starter:
Check out the tutorial here: thymesquaregarden.blogspot.com
#6. Put the Entire Egg Carton into the Ground When Seeds Have Sprouted:
#7. Make an Old Ice Cube Tray Seed Starter:
Get the tutorial here: mrbrownthumb.blogspot.com
#8. Recycle Your Worn-out Paper to Make Paper Pulp for Making DIY Seed Starters:
See the instructions here: 365daysofdiy.blogspot.com
#9. Sow in Gallon Bags Instead of Jugs:
#10. Use a milk jug as a seed starting container:
2). Seed Trays and Soil Blocks:
#1. Use a soil blocker to make nifty little soil containers for your seeds.
Buy the Soil Blocker Tool at Amazon.
#2. Cut the PVC pipe into pieces and attach a wooden plug to each dowel to make soil block makers:
Check out the tutorial: theprairiehomestead.com
#3. Recycle a plastic container to make soil blocks with a mold.
Get the great instructions here: instructables.com
#4. Use baking tins as templates for square foot gardening.
#5. Make a seed starting tray from cardboard and coffee filters.
See the full tutorial at: instructables.com
Alternatively, cut down inserts from wine cases can be used as dividers in seed trays.
Check out the more details at: blogcrumbs.blogspot.com
#6. Create reusable wooden flats for seedlings:
Get the more details here: motherearthnews.com
3. Make Tags and Labels.
This helps track what you are planting (seed name, date, number of days required for germination, days to maturity). If you are planting seeds in pots(or other DIY containers), you can use masking tape and a Sharpie, or other easy to get plant labels, such as “19 Cute and No-money Ideas to Label the Garden Plants“.
In addition, if you are planting in a seed tray using soil blocks in a grid system, it can be easily marked, just like cells in a spreadsheet.
4. Seed Starting Mix.
Whether sowing in a tray or in pots, the premise is that you have to be ready with “Seed Starting Mix”. They are perfect for seed sowing and help to create a clean seeding environment free of pathogens. If you want to buy them from the store, my advice is to buy organic products without additives (e.g. synthetic water granules or synthetic fertilizers). Garden soil is NOT recommended. It compacts easily and may harbor diseases. You can also make your own seed sowing mixture using some amazing recipes shared by people.
Homemade Seed Sowing Mix Recipe:
Coco coir (from the husks of coconuts); Vermiculite (help to retain water); Perlite (prevent soil from compacting); Fine chicken grit; Coarse sand; Compost(such as leaf mold or other soil) need to be sterilized in a microwave roasting bag for 10 minutes(82 °C).
Check out “5 Recipes for Blending Your Own Soil Mixes“.
The next step is to mix the seed start mixture with water. The standard for successful mixing is that:
After squeezing it in your hand, the mixture should hold together and no water should drip out. If there are water droplets, it means there is too much water. If it crumbles, it means you should continue to add water to it.
If you’re raising seeds indoors, natural light or fluorescent light is the best choice. Some seeds need to germinate in darkness, so you need to check the seed packet for specific instructions.
DIY PVC Pipe Grow Light for Seed Starting:
See the full instructions here: vegetablegardener.com
6. Add Heat Mat or Create Greenhouse.
Put your seed container on top of a hot water heater or use a heat mat underneath to increase the soil temperature.
DIY Heat Mat Speeds Seed Starting:
Get the full tutorial here: vegetablegardener.com
If you are starting seeds outdoors, you can keep them warm by setting up a greenhouse, or cover them with plastic bags or films. Check out 17 Simple Budget-Friendly Plans to Build a Greenhouse
7. No moisture = No Germination.
Use a spray bottle to finely mist water over the seeds, or add your container/tray to a shallow water bath with warm water. Make sure the soil environment is neither too dry nor too wet. You can also consider using a Moisture Meter, which is a very helpful tool.
(5). Transplanting Outdoors:
If you’ve started seeds indoors, you will need to ‘harden them off’ for a week or two before transplanting outdoors. During this time, you can start preparing your garden bed.
(6). The Last:
Remember to keep everything watered, and watch for any weather extremes. Plant babies need love and attention. Let’s start sowing!