Growing plants from starting seeds will allow you to grow a wider range of varieties, and often at significant savings over purchasing more mature plants. It is also fun and satisfying! Here are our guidelines for starting seeds.
Perhaps the most convenient way to start seeds is in a specially designed seeding tray, but you can use a wide range of containers as long as they have adequate drainage. If re-using a container it is important to thoroughly clean and sterilize it first.
The general rule of thumb is to plant seeds two to three times as deep as they are wide. When in doubt, err on the shallow side – planting your seeds too deep will inhibit germination. Some seeds need light to germinate so should not be covered by soil at all. Planting depth information is usually included on the seed packet.
Seeds need to be warm to germinate – most like temperatures between 65 &75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a warm spot in your house you can purchase warming germination mats to put under your seeding flats. Supplemental heat only needs to be provided until the seeds sprout. After that, the lights they are growing under should provide adequate heat.
Even a South facing window usually will not provide enough light to start seedlings. Full spectrum lights should be hung as close to the seedlings as possible, about 2”-3” above. Raise the lights as the seedlings grow to maintain this same distance. Once the seeds germinate the lights should be kept on 16 hours a day and off 8 hours a day. The easiest way to achieve this is to hook your lights up to a timer.
Keep moisture levels high for germination by covering your seed tray with a clear plastic top to lock in moisture. Once seeds germinate remove the plastic cover. Check your plants every day. Soil should be kept moist but never wet. Spraying with a mist bottle is a good way to water young seedlings.