The Q&A Archives: Seed Starting In Doors

Question: Hi,
I bought some pop up peat pellets, but they had no instructions. The store clerk said to add water and when it expands put the seed in. My question is how many seeds do I add to one pellet? Do I keep watering? How much water? Do I need a heating mat for these/ I don't have a warm spot to keep them, also when do I add the seeds?

Answer: The peat pellets are set in a shallow pan of water and will aborb water and expand correspondingly. Warm water works faster than cold water. Once they have swelled, pour off the excess water.

Plant the seeds when the peat has stopped swelling. Use just a few seeds per pellet because you will eventually thin back to one plant per pellet.

After seeding, cover the tray and pellets with clear plastic wrap to maintain the humidity and set it in a bright location out of direct sun. (Direct sun would cause overheating. Do not water them. )

Once the seeds germinate, remove the cover and set the plants in very bright light. Water as needed to keep the peat barely damp. You can water carefully from the top or from the bottom by soaking, but do not allow them to sit in standing water and become overly soaking wet.

Using a heating mat or other source of gentle bottom heat or keeping them in a warmer location is a good idea for starting tomato and pepper seeds or other plants that like warmer soil temperatures. For many plants it is not necessary if your house is kept at about 70 degrees.

The time you should plant will depend on what you are trying to grow. Peppers and tomatoes for example would be started about 6 to 8 weeks before your last expected frost date. Most seed packets will give a guideline for when to seed indoors if indoor seeding is a common practice for that plant. Some plants such as corn and beans and peas are usually planted directly in the garden.

You will get the hang of it with a little trial and error -- gardening is always a learning experience. Have fun with your seeds!

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