10 Seed Starting Tips
- Plan your garden out on paper so that you know what you'd like to plant and where you will plant it before purchasing seeds. It's tempting to buy too many seeds during winter when you're yearning to get outside and garden.
- Decide which plants are more economical to buy from your local garden center and which are best started from seeds. If you need just one plant, for example, it may be better to buy a single plant at your favorite nursery than purchasing seeds.
- Stock up on seeds you will use throughout the growing season. This includes lettuce, which may be planted in the spring as well as in the fall, and other seeds that may be difficult to find in the summer months.
- Check your grow lights or seed starting lights if you're starting seeds indoors. Replace burned-out bulbs and clean the unit.
- Purchase a timer so that your seed starting lights go on and off automatically. This way, you'll never forget to turn on the lights!
- Sterilize all of your seed starting equipment before planting seeds. You can sterilize plastic pots, trays and containers using a solutions of 9 parts water to 1 part household bleach. Mix the solution and soak the plastic containers for 10 minutes. Rinse, dry, and use.
- Heat is important for germination of many common flowers and vegetables. Check the back of the seed package to see what the preferred temperature is for germination. Purchase and use ONLY specially made seed-starting heat mats. These are intended to be used under seed starting trays. Don't try to make them yourself - you could start a fire.
- Read the back of the seed package to determine when to plant seeds indoors. The back of the seed package provides plenty of information include how to plant the seeds, days to germination, and more.
- Make labels for your pots or containers from clean popsicle sticks, cut up slats of old Venetian blinds, or any strips of wood or plastic you'd like to recycle.
- Test seed viability for any opened seed packages you may have stored from previous years. Place 10 seeds between moist paper towels in a sealed plastic bag. Place the bag in a warm location such as on top of your refrigerator and wait a week. Check daily. The number that germinates gives you the percent of viable seeds in an open seed package. This gives you a good idea if you need to buy more or not this year.