Starting Seeds at Home

Get a Head Start on the Growing Season

  • Important with slow germinating seeds such as parsley, peppers, eggplants
  • Helpful with slow growing plants or ones that require extra heat
  • Timing: 6-8 weeks before projected in ground planting time

Control Conditions Precisely

  • Use potting soil, thus reducing incidence of soil borne diseases such as Pythium, which is a water mold fungi.
  • Control the temperature -- most seeds germinate faster with warmer temperatures -- up to a point. If you have a choice of warm air temps. but low soil, vs. low air, but higher soil temps. -- choose higher soil temps.
      Ex. at 50°F corn has 47% germination rate, at 59°F it has a 97% germination rate, at 41°F cabbage has a 27% germination rate and at 59°F it has a 93% germination rate.
  • Control soil moisture
  • Protect from predators such as snails, slugs, earwigs, sowbugs, birds and other critters
    • Place seedling trays upside down over seedlings
    • Grow starts on potting bench off the ground
    • Cover with netting
    • Use iron phosphate snail and slug bait
    • Make earwig trap by placing 2" of soy sauce with tablespoon of oil in "margarine" tub. Punch holes all along top edge of side with hole punch. Place top on and sink this into ground. Check each day and change as needed.

    Step by Step Seeding Procedures

    • Choose containers 2-3" deep such as 6- packs, recycled 2"-4" pots.
    • Be sure there is good drainage
    • Fill container 3/4" full with moist soil
    • Make smooth and level
    • Place seed on soil and either press in as in the case of larger seed or sprinkle soil over and press down firmly.
    • Sprinkle gently to saturate soil
    • Place in warm spot, preferably on heating mat and keep moist. Containers don't have to be in sunlight until germination, at which time it should receive full sun all day or be exposed to grow lights.
    • As soon as plants emerge and before they are crowded, thin so they aren't competing for sunlight, nutients and moisture. Probably have 2-3 plants per container cell initially with subsequent thinning to the strongest one with 1 1/2" between plants .

    Hardening off

    • About 1 1/2 - 2 weeks before transplanting into the garden, gradually adjust seedlings to outdoors conditions
    • Set containers outside on warm days.
    • Bring in at night.


    Other Resources:

    Revised: 22-Jan-2003