Seed Starting Guide

The Ultimate Seed Starting Guide

Ah, Super Sow Sunday is almost here yet again. The day when gardeners get together to sow seeds during the Super Bowl. Many can multitask and take in both of these grand events or some may simply choose one. I know what I will be doing on Sunday though, preparing my gardening plans, planting some seeds, and chatting with all the amazing gardeners who gather for this momentous day.

Seed Starting Guide

If you are hoping to get your own seeds sown this year, and start your garden truly from scratch, then I have put together a guide covering the many essential posts from the Garden Therapy Seed Starting Series.

Seed Starting 101

Of course, the best place to start is at the beginning with Seed Starting 101. This covers how to choose and plant your seeds, as well as information on containers, soil, light, water, and more.

home grown vegetables

Seed Starting Containers for the Crafty Gardener

Then the crafter has a chance to join the party when the truth about all those cutsie Pinterest seed starting container are put to the test in Seed Starting Containers: The Real Dirt – Part 1. Do toilet paper rolls and egg cartons really make good seed starting containers? All be revealed in this post.

Toilet paper tissue rolls as seed starting containers

Seed Starting Containers You Can Buy

If you aren’t feeling all that crafty, then how about the store bought containers? The expose continues with Seed Starting Containers: The Real Dirt – Part 2 where you’ll find out if those eco-pots are really worth the high prices and if the peat pellets grow good tomato seedlings.

tomato seedling in coconut coir peat pot

Setting Up a Grow Light Shelf

Once you have these beautiful little seedlings starting to sprout, what then? It’s time to build them a nice warm and bright home so they can grow up big and strong. This Grow Light Shelving for Seed Starting Indoors is an essential part of successful seed starting as prevents cold spring temperatures and short daylight hours from stunting your new seedling’s growth. Once the warmer weather hit’s your little babies will be so advanced that your gardening season will begin in full swing.

seed shelf grow lights

Outdoor Seed Starting in Mini Greenhouses

You could also want to start seeds outdoors with some Mini Greenhouses. These are a staple in my early spring garden and you will soon see why!

 Umbrella Greenhous

About the Author : StephanieAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie

  1. narf7
    narf7February 2,13

    I am excited and I am almost at the end of our summer! What a wonderful ramp up to getting started with early spring production and planting. I am going to use this as my winter seed “push” and will be sorting out what I want to plant in my veggie garden this year. Thank you for narrowing down your excellent post/tutorials to make it easier for we first time veggie gardeners to find exactly what we need to know about starting seeds and thank you for showing us your brilliant mini greenhouse set up. I am thinking about making one with a degassed fridge without a door…rather than take it to the tip (waste disposal) I can repurpose it to grow next springs seedlings in the shed (without taking up too much of my husbands PRECIOUS room ;) ). I love the ordered progression towards productivity :)

  2. mel mccarthy
    mel mccarthyFebruary 16,13

    Ouu! I just can’t wait to start planting. Thank you so much for sharing such great info!

  3. Joaquín
    JoaquínFebruary 18,13

    I’ve seen a lot of pictures (also in your post) where the lights are very close to the plants. Is it really necessary, or is it just a matter of power? I have 4 grolux 39w tubes in a 100cm x 50cm greenhouse (indoor, no natural light at all) and there is a 60 cm space between the plants and the light source. This is my first serious seeding attempt, so I would appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

  4. Stevie
    StevieFebruary 18,13

    Hi Joaquin, yes, it is necessary in the case of the lights used for this project. I can’t speak for your lights but I have found that adjustable lights are pretty standard. In a greenhouse, it tends to be colder and seedlings grow more slowly, so that might work to your advantage. If you check out the full article on seed shelves you will see that the lights are affixed with wires that can raise the lights as the seedlings grow. If the light is too far away from the plant, it will grow tall and leggy (weak). The post on lighting is here

  5. Joaquin
    JoaquinFebruary 18,13

    Thanks, Stevie. Great posts. I think my lights are powerful enough but I’ll keep an eye on the plants and raise them at the first sign of legginess.

  6. Stephanie
    StephanieMarch 16,13

    Thank you for this post! I’m new to gardening and about to plant my seeds! I have a question for you regarding the lighting. Is it ok to switch back forth between sunlight on a window sill and florescent lighting, or should I keep with just one or the other? I plan on starting my seeds in the basement due to my limited space but have a bay window that has a wide enough sill to put all my seeds if needed but the direct sunlight is only during part of the day (mainly around noon). Thanks!

  7. Stevie
    StevieMarch 16,13

    Hi Stephanie, in my experience, if you supplement the florescent lighting for sunlight, the seedling will grow and reach for the window in those few hours. The florescent lights are meant to be set directly above the plants with very little room for them to reach and therefore they will grow stronger. You could try it and if you find the seedlings are getting leggy, then change to just lighting until they are ready to head outside. Gardening is all about experimentation and finding what works for you so have fun with it. I hope this helps!

  8. sovereignjohn
    sovereignjohnApril 18,13

    I’ve read it is ideal to keep lights about two inches from seeding as this gives them enough light and prevents legginess. :)

  9. Chris
    ChrisApril 18,13

    When growing under lights how many hours a day should the lights be on as last time I grow plants I left them on 24/7 and the stem grew to fast and turned out thin and spindly.

  10. Stevie
    StevieApril 18,13

    Hi Chris, I would leave the lights on for 12-16 hours at a time. Start with 12 and increase to 16.

  11. Pascal
    PascalFebruary 6,14

    Great !

    You give to me energy to begin my gardening activities.

    In april i will open my greenhouse.

  12. bren@BGgarden
    bren@BGgardenApril 4,14

    Great information on seed starting Stephanie! Thank you for sharing it with us. I love doing the toilet paper roll planting.

  13. Wanda
    WandaMay 8,14

    Just to ad to your list of ‘seed starter’ options, I have been using coffee cream & milk cartons, I wash them well, cut them to whatever height I’ll want, put holes in the bottom & fill with soil. They’re mostly square so they fit together easier in a tray than round pots.Then when I’m ready to plant, I tear down the seam side, remove my starter & toss carton into the recycling. Not as easy as something you plant right into the ground but works for me.

  14. Stephanie
    StephanieMay 8,14

    great idea Wanda!

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