Tips for Seed Starting Success
Start seeds 6 to 10 weeks before you plant in the garden. Cool season crops like broccoli or lettuce can go into the garden before the last frost. Warm season crops like tomatoes & peppers should not be planted until all danger of frost is past. Almost anyone can succeed by following the guidelines below for starting seed indoor.
Fresh is best
Always start with fresh, high-quality seeds. We carry many of the finest non GMO seeds, including heirloom, certified organic and open-pollinated varieties from Botanical Interest and Burpee.
It’s all in the mix
We recommend Espoma Organic Seed Starter. A good mix ensures that you have a lightweight, clean and sterile medium without insects, fungus or weed. Moisten the mix with a little water…damp, not soggy.
Packets know best
Plant your seeds according to the depth & spacing directions. Cover the seeds with soil mix and tamp down to ensure that seeds are in firm contact with the soil.
It can be challenging to apply the right amount of water using normal methods, so water from the bottom!
Place the planting container into a larger pan of shallow water for a short time (few seconds to a couple of minutes).
Loosely cover with plastic wrap after watering to retain moisture. Check the moisture daily and watch for germination. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic wrap.
For most seeds, sprouting requires a minimum temperature of about 65° to 75°F. Heat mats can both increase germination rates and help you achieve more uniform germination by giving you control over temperature.
Let the sun shine in
All seedlings require a considerable amount of light, most seeds need about 12 to 16 hours of sunlight each day. So make sure you have a sunny, south-facing window. If seedlings don’t get enough light, they will be leggy and weak. If you don’t have a sunny, south-facing window, invest in grow lights and a timer. It’s the best way to ensure consistent, abundant light. Keep the lights just 3 to 4 inches above the plants as they grow.
The need to feed
Don’t use fertilizer on seedlings until they have sprouted! In the very early growth stage, the seed provides its own nourishment, but once leaves develop, it’s time for a little fertilizer like Espoma Plant-tone.
Harden them off
Your sheltered seedlings need to get ready for the outdoors! For 7 to 10 days, put your plants outside for a few hours each day, increasing their exposure to sunlight & wind. Cut back on watering a bit, too. Your plants will become heartier and better prepared for transplanting.
Gently remove plants from their containers without stripping or tearing the roots. Biodegradable pots can be planted right into the field or garden, eliminating root shock. Plant them in the ground and mix in a really good starter plant food like Bio-tone Starter Plus in with the soil.