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Home and Garden

How to Start Plants from Seed

Jump to Recipeseedlings in black plastic containers

Starting plants from seed can seem like a daunting task, but if you have the right knowledge and equipment it can be incredibly rewarding. There is nothing like starting a plant from seed and seeing it all the way to harvest. Plus starting from seed saves a ton of money when growing a lot of plants.

Starting seeds has taught me a great deal of patience. Sometimes plants don’t grow as you would have hoped or the weather isn’t cooperating. If there is one thing I have learned from growing seeds it’s that you can't expect it to go perfectly. You will have some wins and some failures. The wins will be such a great sense of accomplishment that it makes it worth it.

 I put together a few tips so you hopefully end up with more successes. 

Where to Buy Seeds


You can get flower and vegetable seeds online, garden centers, local nurseries, and from your friends and family. You can even get seeds from the vegetables you buy at the store (last year my fiancé grew grape tomatoes and peppers from vegetables we bought at the grocery store).

Here is a list of some of my favorite online store:

  • Botanical Interest - A lot of variety and I always have great results with their seeds.
  • Johnny Seeds - Huge variety and great growing information
  • Floret Flower - My favorite flower shop, but just know she sells out fast so try to get there for their early launch dates

  • Row 7 - They have some very unique varieties, I love their cucumber and habanada varieties


How to Start


If you are new to starting from seed, I would say, start small. Pick a couple of varieties that you want to try and see how it goes. Now there are 2 ways to start from seed, direct sowing and indoor planting.

Direct Sowing


Direct sowing is planting a seed directly outside where you want it to grow. Most seeds want to be planted after your last frost but some seeds can handle cooler temperatures. Peas, spinach, radishes, and other spring crops are ok to plant as soon as the soil can be worked. To find when your last frost date is, simply google your zip code and last front date.

I find direct sowing much easier since there is no indoor set up required and you don’t need to transplant anything. A few downsides are that you will have to wait longer for harvesting and if you have a short growing season this may be difficult. I live in zone 6a and have a decent amount of time to grow plants from direct sowing. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, I like to start indoors so they get a longer harvest time. 

A few of my favorite plants to start from direct sowing are:
Summer Squash

Radishes

Peas

Zinnias


Indoor Sowing/Transplanting


Indoor sowing is a great way to get a jump start on your garden. A few things you will need to start sowing indoors:
• Containers to grow in

• Some type of light

• A fan


There are many more things you can have but those are the basics. I use a lot of different containers to start seeds. There are so many items you can reuse. A few of my go-tos are old plastic nursery pots from plants I bought the year before, take out containers, egg cartons, and tp rolls. The best combo I have found is placing a nursery pot in a take out container that way you can water from the bottom. 

All plants need a little bit different condition to grow, but here are the general steps that work for most plants. Make sure to look at the back of your seed packet or online for specific information. 

Steps to sowing seeds indoors:

  1. Moisten soil with water. I use a seed starting mix that you can find at any garden center. 
  2. Fill your containers. Make sure there is a drain hole in the bottom of your container so it can drain.
  3. Plant seed according to the seed packet. Some need to be planted deeper than others.
  4. Set containers in a warm spot in your house. Different seeds germinate at different temperatures but I have found most things will germinate in my house and it is set at 68-70°F.
  5. Once the seedlings have emerged, place under a light or in a bright window sill. 
  6. Have a fan on occasionally so the seedlings will grow stronger stems. This is important so that when you place the seeds outside they can stand up to the elements.
  7. About a week before planting, start hardening off your seedlings. This means getting your plants used to the outdoor environment. I do this by setting my seedlings outside during the day and then bring them in at night for a few days.
    You're ready to plant them outside! Once the danger of frost has passed you are ready to plant your little baby seedlings and see them thrive.

What seeds to grow and not to grow

You can start almost anything from seed but there are definitely plants that are easier and harder to grow. Here is a list of the ones I have found to be the easiest to the hardest. 

Easiest
• Squash

• Cucumbers

• Radishes

• Zinnias

• Cosmos

• Marigolds

• Basil


Harder (Opt for buying the plant)
• Rosemary

• Thyme

• Celery

• Cauliflower



And these are just based on some I have tried. Hopefully after this growing season I will have a larger list to share!

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