Normally, you should plant your seeds between 4-6 weeks prior to moving them outside, however, species do vary. Also, you may be required to plant your seeds indoors earlier than predicted or indeed later, all dependant on the weather at the time.
Some seeds may require soaking before you plant them, whereas others do not. Make sure to check all the information on the packet as previously mentioned. If your seeds do require soaking, you will need to do so for several hours before adding to your growing medium.
Once you see the first shoot poking through, you will need to move the container into a sunny area. Ensure that the room temperature is above 70°F (21°C) and in bright light so that your plants can grow. You can now remove the plastic/paper covering, but ensure you keep the seedling moist by watering throughout the day. We advise you to water in the early morning and in the afternoon, but not any later in the day – as doing so can mean the water sits on top of the growing medium and can cause problems such as mould that are best avoided. At this point, it is also important to feed your seedlings with the correct fertiliser once they’ve gotten a few inches tall.
5) Time It Right
Garden soil can contain high levels of disease and insects that can cause harm to your seeds. Therefore, it is the safer option in most cases to start your seeds off indoors in ‘seed and cutting’ compost. Obviously, these conditions will vary from plant to plant, so make sure you check thoroughly before beginning the process.
One of the great perks of growing your own plants and vegetables from seed is the fact that you’ll have so many choices to choose from – and you’ll be able to find the perfect seeds to suit you and your garden online or at your local garden centre. Remember to take note of your environment and pick seeds wisely, keeping in mind the environment you have on offer. You will need to pay particular attention to the requirements of the seed –lookout for water requirements, soil temperature, nutritional requirements, and desirable lighting for each species you consider.
Many seeds do not need lighting to germinate while others do. You may need a source of heat and light as sunlight will most likely not suffice. Pick up a plant lamp to keep your seeds happy with lots of lights and heat. Please note: You may use a fluorescent lamp without trouble but you will need a white bulb to provide the right heat and light for your seeds without burning them. A heat mat may also be a good idea for plants that require extra heat.
We suggest covering your container lightly with plastic sheeting/damp newspaper. This will act as a way to regulate and trap moisture and temperature. This is important as if your seeds dry out they will not germinate properly.
An often overlooked aspect of plant propagation is the art of record keeping. Whether you are producing a few plants for your home flower and vegetable gardens or working at a larger-scale nursery, developing a propagation journal will prove indispensable. Here at the Center for Historic Plants, we record when seeds are sown, the germination date and success rate, and when seedlings are ready for transplanting each year.
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. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should lie directly on the surface. Whether covered with planting medium or not, each seed must be in firm contact with the moist surface to begin germinating. Use a pestle or even the bottom of a glass to gently tamp down the surface.
How a practiced propagator gets seedlings off to a healthy start
Seeds are a fragile commodity, and if not treated properly, their viability will sharply decline. While some seeds may survive for thousands of years under the proper conditions, others will lose viability quickly, even when properly stored. To maintain dormancy, keep seeds in a cool, dark location with low humidity, like a refrigerator. I recommend labeling them (seed name, source, year) and storing them in a small reclosable bag or empty film canister that is, in turn, kept in a larger plastic container.
Before seedlings can be planted outdoors, they need to be hardened off, or acclimated to direct sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. It is best to do this over a three-day period by placing them in direct sunlight during the morning only of the first day, then increasing their time outside by a few hours each day until they are vigorous enough to be transplanted.
To promote good air circulation, place a small fan near your seedlings. Keep the fan on low and direct it to blow across the containers at the soil level where air may become trapped and stagnant.
Among the most critical stages in the growth of garden vegetables is seed germination. Germination is the process in which a seed grows into a new plant. There are a lot of variables that can come into play during seed germination, and in turn, a lot of things that can go wrong. Therefore, educating yourself on the important factors affecting this process can help ensure a successful garden.
If you’re failing to germinate seeds outside, starting them inside can help. Purchase a seed tray and plant a few seeds in each one. After your seedlings have grown, you can then move them outside to continue to develop. This protects your plants during their most vulnerable period, and lets you completely control the amount of water they get. In the early stages of growth, a single storm could wipe out your new plants!
1. Pre-Soak Your Seeds Before Planting
Plants lie dormant until the seeds detect enough regular moisture to be able to grow. That is why many seeds take a long time to germinate. You can “trick” the seed into opening faster by pre-soaking them in water. The goal is to penetrate the outer surface of the shell so that the plant gets the signal that it’s ready to grow.
On the other hand, if seeds from multiple sources are failing to germinate, you may need to look into either your soil or your water. Your potting soil may not have sufficient moisture absorption or drainage, or your water may need to be filtered. You may also be in an environment that is too cold for seeds to properly germinate, in which case you may need to invest in something to warm the soil.
Soil temperature sensors are ideal for growing seeds and seedlings to monitor soil conditions and make sure your plants stay within ideal temperatures, whether outside or indoors. Some indoor soil temperature sensors can also measure room temperature and humidity to provide even more information about growing conditions. Temperature is very important because the seed needs to “know” that the cold season is done and that it is time to grow. As much as they need moisture, seeds also need consistent warmth. Outside, this will usually be delivered by direct sunlight. Inside, you need to be able to control the temperature.