Starting Seedlings

Seed Starting :: Five Little Homesteaders

Spring is coming.  I promise.

What this means is that it is about time to start thinking about starting seedlings.

Since I’ve been gardening for so long, it seems to me that starting seedlings is a no brainer.  However, I’ve recently been reminded that it isn’t for everyone.  Some people believe they have a black thumb…some people have never tried…and some people are just intimidated!  Whatever the case, this post will set you straight.

Starting Seedlings

1.  Seeds

The first thing that you are going to need to do when starting seedlings is get your hands on some seeds.  In my opinion, you’ll want organic, heirloom seeds.  (Most of you probably already know about my love for where to buy seeds –” >Botanical Interest seeds.)  I wrote a post not too long ago on my post will help you know what to look for to purchase the best seeds to fit your needs.

2.  Supplies

Starting Seedlings :: Five Little Homesteaders

Next, you’ll want to gather your supplies.  This is also pretty simple to do.  You’ll need:

  • Pots (I like to use 4 inch pots)
  • Seed Starting Mix (I like to make my own but you can also buy something like this)
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Water
  • Plastic Wrap

3. Wet Soil & Prepare Pots

At this point, I fill my 5 gallon bucket with seed starting mix and get it soaking wet.  I like to get it so wet that it can’t absorb the water anymore and when you squeeze the soil in your hand it wrings out like a really wet sponge.

Fill each 4 inch pot (or whatever you’re using) almost to the top with soil.  (Water will most likely run out the bottom because of the wetness of the soil, be sure to be prepared for this.)

4. Plant the Seeds

Now you’re ready to plant your seeds.  Depending on the size of the seed and its individual needs, there will be different planting instructions.  I don’t usually stress about this too much and generally plant most seeds about 1/2-1 inch deep.  But to be sure, read your package.

5. Cover Pots with Saran Wrap and Place in a Warm Spot

It is really important that the seeds stay in damp soil the entire time that they are germinating or trying to germinate.  To facilitate this, I keep each of my 4 inch pots covered with plastic wrap until the first signs of germination. (It is important to take the plastic wrap off IMMEDIATELY at first signs of germination.)

It is also important that your soil temperature is at the appropriate level for germination.  I find that most seeds germinate between 70-80 degrees.  Here is a very helpful chart on seed germination soil temperatures – .

6. Germination and Light

starting seedlings :: Five Little Homesteaders

Once your seeds are germinated, get them into the sun or turn on your starting seeds with grow lights –” >grow lights.  I wrote a post not too long ago about

And there you have it!  That’s pretty much all there is to starting seeds at home.

Are you already on the right path for starting seedlings for spring?  What are you planning to grow this year?

As an aside, if you’re serious about gardening, especially organic gardening, I highly recommend anything by Eliot Coleman.

This post is part of the  30 Day Natural Living Challenge – .

 Simple Steps to Real Food

Check out all the other great posts from the challenge:

30 Day Natural Challenge –

30 Day Natural Challenge: Setting Goals –

Sustainable Fashion –

Homemade Natural Skincare {Getting Started} –

5 Simple Steps to Real Food –

Want even more information on starting seedlings?

Check out this great post from The Prairie Homestead on repurposed seed starting pots – .

The Sprouting Seed has a post on starting seeds in egg cartons – .

And I have to admit, starting seeds in eggshells – is a really good and economical idea.

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  • 2 thoughts on “Starting Seedlings

    1. Missy

      Question regarding seed starting: For the past several years I have been trying to start seeds. My cucumbers, zucchini and squashes start and finish great. But, everything else fails. Every single seed that germinates sprouts in just a day or two, and has shot up about one to two inches but is very, very spindly and weak. Why, why why are my seedlings doing this. I have them in a patio greenhouse with grow lights hanging from each bar on each level. The grow lights are just the grow lights from Walmart. Any advice you or anyone else out there can give me? One or two of the seedlings I have transplanted into even bigger containers so that I can bury the root and stems deeper hoping that will help them to become stronger. But, I have never ever heard of any other blogger having to do this. Please help if you can.

      1. Colleen

        Ahhh…. it sounds like you have “leggy” seedlings Missy. A few things, are you keeping the grow lights about 2 inches from the top of the plants at all times? Do you keep the lights on for about 18 hours? Do you have a full spectrum bulb in the light fixture?


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