Few gardening pursuits are as rewarding as growing your own plants from seed. Don’t know how to do that right?
- Keep records to allow for better planning. Record when seeds are sown, the germination date and success rate, and when seedlings are ready for transplanting each year.
- Store seed properly to maintain viability. To maintain dormancy, keep seeds in a cool, dark location with low humidity, like a refrigerator.
- Use wide, flat containers to avoid overcrowding. Wide, shallow containers prevent both overcrowding of seedlings and excessive moisture around fragile, young roots.
- Tamp seeds down to make direct contact with soil. Use a kitchen sieve to spread soilless seed-starting mix evenly over the top of the seeds to the depth of two times the seed diameter.
- Prevent disease by providing air flow and drainage. After covering the seeds with planting mix and tamping them down, spread a thin layer of 50 percent milled sphagnum and 50 percent starter chicken grit over the surface.
- Cover trays with plastic wrap to keep the moisture level constant.
- Keep seeds warm to encourage germination.
- Turn seedlings daily to keep stems strong.
- Feed them well. Most seed-starting mixes contain a small nutrient charge to help make this transition while not burning the developing roots.
- Acclimate seedlings to direct sunlight. Place them in direct sunlight during the morning only of the first day, then increasing their time outside by a few hours each day.