The Q&A Archives: Seed Starting Basics

Question: I usually plant our garden using plants - not from seed. However, I am increasingly disappointed about the selection our local garden center has. This year I was thinking of starting from seeds. Do you have any suggestions of where to begin? Maggie Workman W. Lafayette, IN

Answer: Starting your own seeds is a great way to try out new and unusual varieties. Plan to start most seeds about six to eight weeks before you plant to transplant to your garden. Use only a seed-starting, soilless mix--don't use garden soil, because it canharbor pathogens. Plant seeds in individual small pots, or in large flats to be transplanted to pots. Most seeds need moisture and warmth to germinate, so after planting, place flats or pots in a loosely sealed plastic bag to retain soil moisture and humidity. Keep in a warm place; once seedlings emerge, place the pots under fluorescent lights, and thin to one plant per pot. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy--you can water tiny seedlings by spraying gently with a mister. As the plants grow, transplant to larger pots as needed. Plants will need to be hardened off before planting in the garden. Seedlings taken from indoors directly to the garden can suffer from sunburn and wind and cold damage. Acclimate the plants by placing them outdoors in a sheltered spot for increasing lengths of time over about a week. Some good plants to start with are tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and some flowers and herbs. Generally peas, beans, corn, squash and pumpkins, lettuce, and spinach are direct-seeded into the garden..

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Marilyn and is called "Southern Comfort"