Seed Starting 101

The beautiful weather these last few days has had me thinking Spring, Spring, Spring! And Spring makes me think of gardening and gardening makes me think – it’s time to start some seeds! (I wrote last month about planning for your garden, if you want to start there).

March is a good time to start preparing for seed starting because it takes a bit of forethought and planning. There are only a few plants that like being started this early, so you can start slow.

To start seeds, you will need…

  • Seeds
  • Some sort of containers, pots, or trays to plant into
  • Something clear to cover your pots with (people use plastic tubs, old milk bottles, and windows).
  • Seed Starting Mix, preferably organic
  • A light source (a sunny window works pretty well)
  • A heat source (a sunny window and/or a heat vent work well)
  • A small watering can or spray bottle
  • Patience

STEP ONE: Choose your seeds. At this point, you’ll want to plant hardy greens like kale, some flowers and herbs, broccoli, and cauliflower. Take a look at your seed packet to be sure of the timing.

I like to write when to plant seeds on my calendar. Obviously these are rough estimates and broccoli doesn’t care if it’s planted March 27th or April 2nd.

STEP TWO: Prepare your containers, pots, or trays. When I first started gardening, I was lucky enough to inherit a whole bunch of gardening supplies from a neighbor, so I have several plastic seed-starting trays. They are in pretty rough shape by now, but thanks to duct tape, I think they’ll last a few years yet. If you don’t have trays already, don’t despair. There are lots of low and zero waste options for seed starting. After a quick wash with water and vinegar, your pots are ready to go.

STEP THREE: Prepare your soil. I find it works best to moisten your soil before planting. In a separate pot or tray, mix the soil with water until it is slightly damp (it will make a loose ball when squeezed).

STEP FOUR: Fill your containers. Fill trays and small pots about 3/4 full and press down the soil. For bigger containers and pots, leave about an inch at the top.

STEP FIVE: Plant your seeds. Lay the seeds on top of the soil and cover them with soil. The depth of the soil will be written on your seed packet. I always plant several seeds per pot. You can always thin seedlings later if they all germinate.

STEP SIX: Cover and warm. Place something clear and plastic or glass over your pots, trays, or containers to keep the soil moist and warm. Then place the whole operation in a sunny window or on a heat vent (this is one situation where the greenhouse effect is a good thing!).

STEP SEVEN: Maintain. Check your soil daily to make sure it is still damp. You can spray the soil with a spray bottle, but don’t over water. Once seedlings appear, remove the clear covering and and place them in a sunny window.

I hope this helps get you started. Starting seeds is so much fun and totally worth the wait. Good luck with it!

– Hannah

Questions or advice about starting seeds? Comment below!

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