Seed Starting Basics

Follow these simple seed starting tips to get a head start on gardening season.

| June 2018

  • seed starting
    Don't start too many seeds at once, keep it simple. Once you've mastered a few basics, expand your repertoire.
    Photo by Shaye Elliot
  • seed starting
    Potting soil makes it easy for your seedlings to take root and grow without any interference.
    Photo by Shaye Elliot
  • seed starting
    Starting seeds indoors brings with it the hope of all that's to come in the summer harvest.
    Photo by Shaye Elliot
  • cover
    “Welcome to the Farm” by Shaye Elliot is a comprehensive guide for all readers wanting to grow their own food and live a homestead life from their backyard.
    Cover courtesy Lyons Press

  • seed starting
  • seed starting
  • seed starting
  • cover

In Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from The Elliott Homestead, Shaye Elliot teaches readers how they can live a homestead lifestyle without a farm. In this fully illustrated how-to, Elliot shows readers how to harvest their own vegetables, milk a dairy cow, can jams and jellies, and more! The following excerpt is from Chapter 1, "The Home Garden."

Why start seeds? Great question, my friend. One would start seeds if one needed to get a jump-start on the gardening season. Up here in the north, we need to start a few crops indoors if we ever hope to get a harvest before the first frost. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and other long-season vegetables require more frost-free days than we have. So starting them indoors allows us to grow them for a while inside, move them outside to the garden beds when it's safe, and harvest the bounty before the frost arrives in the fall.

There are other benefits to starting seeds yourself, not the least of which is control over what you grow. Unlike the nurseries and home — improvement stores that carry only a few dozen varieties, there are (literally!) limitless options of seeds available to the home gardener. This means you have freedom to choose exactly the variety you'd like. On top of increased growing options, the cost of seeds is significantly lower than buying starts.

Tips for Seed Starting

Don't start too many. Often, it's easy for us gardeners to get overzealous (points to self) and start too many seeds from too many different varieties. Keep it simple. Once you've mastered a few basics, expand your repertoire.



Water from the ground up. Seedlings are extremely sensitive and watering them from overhead with a watering can may cause disruption in the airy potting soil and can also cause the soil to crust over a bit. Instead, plant the seeds in pots with drainage holes in the bottom and place the pots in a tray that can hold water. This way, the soil and seedlings can absorb water from below as they need it, maintaining a consistent moisture level and preventing any damage to the soil aeration or seedling.

Follow package directions. Often the seed packet will tell you exactly when to start your seeds. These instructions are there for a reason. If started too soon, some seeds (such as cucumbers) will suffer. I know rules are meant to be broken... but try to control yourself a wee bit.

MATTHEWG
3/25/2020 4:32:33 PM

We planted a LOT of Sweat Bell Pepper seeds. Some germinated right away, while some took almost 2 or 3 weeks longer to germinate. Almost all of them have now germinated. I think I may have planted some of the seeds a little too deep. We also got a new grow light to replace the one we had which would work one day and not the next. The problem we have is I am unable to adjust the light height over the plants. The way I wanted to set the light up, I would have been able to adjust the light height, but it seemed too unsteady and likely to fall off. So I used the manufacturers mounting cable with hook and something similar to a small carabiner clip. With the Coronavirus and a lot of stores closed, I am going to have to figure out a new mounting way and then wait until the stores open again to get the parts needed. We are going to plant some tomato seeds soon. We usually plant more than we need. we usually end up making pasta sauce, steak sauce, eat some fresh, slice some for sandwiches, etc. and even give some away. Great article! Has some tips I can use and even had some I already knew about. Keep the articles coming!






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