Part 1: Seed Starting Tips
- Start with clean plant pots, clean hands and a sterile seed starting mix. Most bagged mixes are already sterile. Starting seeds indoors in topsoil or compost can sometimes lead to fungal diseases in the seedlings, or too many nutrients that overwhelm the young plants.
- Moisten your seed starting mix before putting into pots. This will ensure that the soil is moist enough to start seeds, as well as leave lovely pockets of air in the pot. If you put dry soil starting mix in the pot, then pour water over – you run the risk of sinking your seed further under the weight of the water, or the water filling in those air pockets, which are great for healthy root development.
- Plant your seeds at the correct depth. A general rule of thumb is to plant the seed twice the depth of its size. Very small or thin seeds such as pepper, mustard greens, or broccoli should go just below the surface. Lettuce seeds benefit and will germinate faster if they are slightly exposed on the surface.
- Keep plastic wrap or a plastic dome on top of the pots once your seeds are in. This will help retain moisture around your seeds. Keep this on until you see them start to sprout. You may also lightly mist the top of the seed starting mix with a spray bottle once or twice daily.
- Put your pots in a tray so you can add water from the bottom. The seed starting mix will absorb as much water as needed. Make sure your plant pots have holes in the bottom to let moisture come in and excess moisture go out. Don’t keep the tray flooded with water daily – let it get absorbed into the seed starting mix before adding more.
- After your seedlings are about two weeks old – that is, sprouted after two weeks, you can add a dilute organic liquid fertilizer to the water. It is normal for the bottom leaves to yellow and die – these are a food source for the developing leaves.
- If your seed-starting space is too cool, consider adding a seedling heating mat under the tray.