General seed starting

Wed. Mar. 6, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  General seed starting

We entered meteorological Spring but we ain’t feelin’ it!  Woke up this morning (March 3rd) at -15 degrees…. WHAT?!?  

Soon (we hope) we’ll be planting seeds indoors for an early start.  What do you need:

  • a place to put your seedlings!
  • sterile containers or peat pots or those peat pellets
  • soil-less seed starting mix
  • light (I use an old shop light on a pulley system)
  • heating mat
  • fan
  • seeds!
  • Check out this comprehensive article about Seed Starting by the University of Minnesota Extension including timing.  Adjust timing for your climate!
starting peppers

Place your planted seeds on a heating mat if the room is cold.  These are relatively inexpensive and well worth having, especially if you place your seeds in the basement.

Peppers on a heat mat under a shoplight – when I did this in 2004, I put the seedlings directly on the mat.  I would suggest putting the seedlings in a tray

Bottom heat will help your seeds germinate and will also help prevent Damping Off.

tan, mushy spots are damping off fungi. photo by Michelle Grabowski UofMN

Once your seeds sprout, they’ll need light.  Always check out your seed packet for information on germination, soil and light conditions.  Generally speaking, your seedlings will need anything from 12 to 16 hours a day.  Tomatoes and peppers are a good example of 16 hour a day lighting.  Keep the light about 6 inches from the top of the seedlings (thus the pulley system).

Letting a fan gently blow across your seedlings will help strengthen their stems.  Leave the fan on for about an hour a day.

I don’t have space for this type of system anymore.  So…. I’m working on the sunlight from my upstairs bathroom!!  Since it’s actually too early to start seeds due to the very cold weather…. this is an experiment.  I planted some spinach and carrot seeds because I have a lot of them.  Am saving my tomato and special petunia (only 15) for another month probably!

3-3-19 paper and plastic
seed starting in the bathroom! ps, that’s snow out the window on top of my back porch greenhouse roof…. sigh
seed starting carrots and spinach experiment