Doing your own seed starting is so beneficial to the homesteader and/or gardener. After all, doesn’t every homesteader and gardener have those enjoyable moments where they can boast about that vegetable garden they started themselves from seed? Or how about in the kitchen when you slice open that freshly harvested squash. Knowing those rewards all came about because you planted those seeds yourself and right at home.
Here are some reasons why you should be starting your own seeds, followed by 10 tips to help you be successful.
Seed Starting Made Easy
Why Should You Start Your Own Seeds?
You will save money.
The truth of the matter is that transplants can get expensive. Buying a packet of seeds is so much cheaper and you get more bang for your buck. However, you can save seeds each year from the plants you already grow! By saving seeds from those open-pollinated varieties you grow, you now receive free seeds each year thereafter!
This means seed starting costs you nothing more than the initial investment of starting trays, potting soil and maybe a grow light. And once you buy those voila!
There is no limit to variety.
One of the greatest reasons to do your own seed starting is because there are so many varieties of seeds to choose from! You can choose compact or tall plants, plants of a certain color and or height. Buying transplants mean your only options are what each store offers. The same goes for seed packets found in big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Nothing more.
There are so many seed companies like Mary’s Seeds, that you are bound to find one you absolutely like! Sign up today and receive a free seed resource sheet for some great recommendations on where to purchase almost any kind of seed! Just sign up below and download it now!
You can buy heirloom seeds easily.
This ties in with the above reason! Heirloom seeds can’t be bought in the big box stores. But you can order heirloom seeds and know exactly what to expect in your gardens.
It can save space in your garden.
By doing your seed starting indoors, you can let crops already growing finish to their peak while your seedlings are starting inside. This means you have more room to plant when those seedlings you planted are ready for transplanting to the garden.
Seed Starting can give you a faster harvest.
Since your starting seeds indoors, you can plant a lot earlier than if you bought transplants. That means when you start lettuce inside, the new plants can be put into the garden when most other people are just starting their planting. You will have a jump start and therefore, you can harvest before most traditional gardeners.
If you have a way of starting seeds under grow light and an appropriate tray or container for them to grow, you can harvest even sooner. That is a heck of a jumpstart compared to direct sowing in the garden!
You can attend a seed swap.
If you have never been to a seed swap, you need to go! There you will find the most amazing and unique varieties of heirloom and other seeds. When you start seed starting your own seeds, you will almost always have extra. What better way to take advantage of those extra seeds than going to a seed swap! After all, you never know what you might find!
So now that you have enough reasons why you should do your own seed starting, let’s learn some quick tips.
Seed Starting Tips
Always have a plan.
In the winter, plan your seed starting. Think about what varieties you want to grow. Think about where you want to plant them in your garden. This is the time to lust over all those seeds catalogs to find just what you are looking for.
Making a plan ahead of time will make your seed starting experience smoother and much more enjoyable. Not to mention the excitement of getting that package delivered, knowing those are the seeds you ordered!
Use the correct seed starting soil.
The soil for starting seeds needs to be able to hold moisture yet not a heavy soil. You can purchase seed starting soil, or you can make your own. A quick search on Google will return many options for “recipes” for seed starting.
Also, make sure to have your garden soil ready before transplanting your seedlings to the main garden. It doesn’t have to be done when you start your seedlings but must be done before transplanting time.
Always buy a top-quality seed.
The best options for seed starting are always to buy the highest quality of seed. Always make sure that the seed is meant for your climate too. This has a big impact on the success of your seeds. Seeds designed for the deep south usually won’t flourish in the extreme north for example.
Look at the reviews on sites that sell seeds. You can learn a lot from other gardeners’ experiences and where they live.
You don’t have to use a seed tray.
Most people think they have to do all of their seed starting in those seed trays you see everywhere. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Seeds grow in good soil, good light and the right conditions.
Seeds can be started in cups made of newspaper, yogurt cups, terra cotta pots, buckets, mugs, you name it. Just make sure it has some sort of drainage available. Some people start seeds in old baking dishes, pie pans, even Keurig K Cups.
Plant more than one seed per hole.
You can easily place 2 seeds in every hole you make. Then you have a better chance of at least one plant. If 2 seedlings start, you can try and remove the other one. However, a much easier way is to just snip the weaker of the two off at the soil with a pair of scissors.
If you want to easily keep track of where in the soil you are planting, use a pencil. Just poke the eraser side of a pencil into the soil where ever you want a seed. Then after all the seeds are planted, just cover the holes.
Watch the moisture level.
Your seed starting mix needs to stay moist at all times. Those little sprouts need that moisture to germinate and grow. Never allow your seed starting soil mixture to dry out totally.
And always try to spray or mist from above. Misting your seedlings is better than a stream of water that could potentially damage your new seedlings. Spray bottles are [erfect for this.
Make sure your seedlings have plenty of light.
Light is just as important as moisture when it comes to seed starting. Sometimes just setting newly planted pots on a windowsill is enough. However, if that isn’t an option, you may want to invest in a grow light or two.
When using a grow light, raise your seedlings within a few inches of the light to start. As they start to emerge and grow you can lower them a bit at a time. A stack of books or bricks works nicely for this. It is recommended when using a grow light that the light remains on 14-16 hours per day. Use a timer so you don’t have to constantly watch the clock.
Keep those babies warm.
Seedlings are like new babies. They need to stay warm to germinate and grow. The ideal temperature for seedlings is between 70 and 80 degrees. You can place a heat mat under your seedlings to regulate the temperature easily.
Keep the critters at bay.
If you have cats, you may want to keep your seed trays and pots where they can’t reach them. Fresh dirt is a calling for cats to do their “business”. The last thing you need is to find a surprise at transplant time. Or worse, come into a room where your seeds, soil, and trays are all over the floor because the cat climbs on the shelf.
Make sure you harden off your seedlings.
Your transplants have to leave your nice warm cozy home at some point. You don’t want to just take them outside and forget about them. To do this, set your new plants outside for about an hour the first day about a week before you plan to transplant them. Each day thereafter, increase the time a bit until they are “hardened off” and can be put outside permanently.
By following the tips and suggestions above you will be well on your way to a successful seed starting routine year after year! Are you ready to start those seeds yet? Don’t forget to get your Free Seed Resource Sheet too!
Great tips, Annie! I’ve been starting seeds inside for 30+ years…your tips are still helpful 🙂
THanks, Lisa. I am so glad you found it helpful!
One of my favorite things to do is to get new seeds started. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for the great tips!
So glad you found it helpful!!!
Wendie and I started only two types this year from seeds, eggplant and haberero peppers. We’ll see how they go soon enough, as they just hit the garden beds yesterday- thanks for sharing on the Family Homesteading and Off the Grid blog hop!