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The Gardener’s Guide To Seed Starting

Seed starting is an inexpensive, easy, and gratifying way to begin a garden. While the process can be confusing for beginners, our garden department experts have laid out the basics to help you navigate this new territory.

Get Your Materials

  • Seeds
  • Seed Starting Mix
  • Planting Tray and Clear Plastic Lid
  • Small Biodegradable Containers
  • Labels
  • Grow Light (Optional)
  • Heating Pad (Optional

Plant Your Seeds

A seed starting soil is crucial. Using soil from your garden can introduce diseases to your seedlings. Standard garden soil, even if it is fresh from the bag, will not help either. Seed starting soil has all of the necessary nutrients that your seeds will benefit from. We recommend Miracle Gro’s Seed Starting Potting Mix for best results.

Distribute the soil into the biodegradable containers. Afterwards, put three to five seeds in each container. Planting more than one of the same seed is important, as it is the best way to guarantee that you will have at least one strong sprout. You may want to label your containers during this step.

Once the seeds have been placed you will add a very thin layer of soil over them. The seeds should be buried no more than ¼ inch deep. If too much soil is used the seeds will either suffocate or be unable to break through that barrier when they grow. When all the seeds have been covered with soil you can place your containers in a planting tray. The planting tray will benefit you in two ways. Firstly, it will catch any excess water and be a good indicator of how much you are watering. Secondly, it will allow you to utilize a clear plastic lid to cover the tray. Whatever is used to cover the tray will need air holes to prevent mold growth. A cover will essentially act as a greenhouse, keeping in all the warmth, moisture, and humidity that your seeds will appreciate.

Read The Seed Packets

Reading the back of seed packets is the easiest way to understand their needs. This will also save you from the time it takes to browse the internet for these answers. Many seed packets will explain light, water, and soil needs. They are also likely to detail the best time to plant and how long the plant takes to reach maturity. This information will be useful as you watch your seed’s growth.

Maintain Growth

Next is the growth period. Pay attention and cater to your seeds’ needs. The soil should be moist, though be sure not to drown your plants. As mentioned before, the water that gathers in the tray underneath is the best way to determine if overwatering is occurring. Any part of your home that receives natural light will be an ideal place for your tray. However, if your home lacks light, the optional grow light could help you out here. If your house is too cold you may want to consider putting a heating pad underneath the tray to warm the soil. The desired soil temperature is 65 degrees or higher.

Transplant Time

When your plant is 4-6 inches tall you are approaching the transplant stage. Though you will need to wait until after the last frost to proceed with this. After transplanting you will still need to monitor your plant. Look out for pests such as insects, squirrels, mice, and gophers. Water is still necessary, and checking the soil temperature from time to time is important too. This is also the time to educate yourself on what else your plant may need. For example, if you have tomatoes they will need a tomato cage to support their growth. Likewise, if your plant has vines then some type of aid like a trellis will be needed. If you live in an area that gets hot a shade cloth may be useful. Ultimately, your plants need your help, and by following this guide you will be able to provide it!

Need more information? Call us at (925) 705-7500 or text us at (925) 320-3050!


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