How To Plant Seeds
from Sue at New Dimension seeds

Starting plants from seeds is not difficult, yet for beginner gardeners it can be intimidating. Try to under stand the basic needs of seeds, then use common sense and follow a few simple rules; you too will be growing them like pros.

Note: A lot of “common sense” was not so common. It was only “common” from the hind side view. I made a lot the mistakes when I first started gardening. I hope this will help to cut your learning curve.

What do seeds need?

Seeds need:

·    Moisture – Water provided by you. You need to keep the soil moist, not soaking wet.

·    Air –When seeds germinate and root start to develop, they need air to breath and grow.  The right kind of soil provides good drainage, which will allow the roots to develop properly.

·    Temperature – condition provided by you. The optimum germination temperature is between 75-80 F. Seeds will germinate outside of this range, but it may take longer.

·    Light - When seedling emerges, provide ample light will ensure healthy growth.

Good soil

·    Use store bought potting soil. They have the right kind of structure that will provide good drainage. They are sterile. Some even have fertilizer added to the soil mix (if not you can add your own). It will make your job much easier.

·    Sometimes it is tempting to use old soil, but it will just cause trouble later on. Old soil is not sterile and can introduce diseases to the plants and cause them to die (damping off).

Good Seed

·    Starting with good seeds are important for obvious reasons. Choose varieties that are suitable for local growing condition.

·    The vitality of seeds means the capacity to live, grow, or develop. Vital seeds germinate faster; therefore reduce the chances for mishaps to occur. You last year’s seeds will take longer to germinate then the fresh seeds.

Other tips

To pot or not to pot?

·    Certain seeds must be started in pots. This include the heat loving plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Others are almost always direct sowed. This include root crops-radishes, carrots, greens like spinach. The rest it is up to you. You will usually get the plants to produce earlier if you start them as seedlings first.

The Keep One Rule

·    When starting seeds in pots, always place several seeds in each seed pot. When the seedlings emerge, remove all but one strong and healthy seedling in each pot. This will ensure the proper development of the seedling and give your plant the best chance to survive.

Heat Mat

·    Heat mat: Heat mat raises the temperature about 10 F above the ambient temperature. Heat mat provides bottom heat and that is just what young seedlings love. Used properly you can grow some of the best looking, healthy seedlings.

·    Temperature control unit: Used together with a heat mat, the temperature control unit allows you to set the heat mat at a constant temperature.


Mulching the seedlings

·    Mulching for seedlings: add a layer of mulch such as chicken grits (fine rocks) can have many benefits to young seedlings: (1) it keeps the moisture in the soil (2) it prevents soil being splattered when watering (3) It reduces the chances of moss or fungus forming on the surface.


Direct sow:

·    If you decided you are going to direct sow your seeds, do the following:

·    Prepare your garden by turning it over and make the soil fluffy. Add soil amendments if you need to. Soil amendments can be garden compost, manures, coconut fibers, peat moss or sand.

·    Make a furrow, place potting soil in the furrow.  Sprinkle some slow release fertilizer in the furrow.

·    Sow at the appropriate spacing, and cover the seeds with a light layer of soil.

·    Water the seeds in.

·    If weather is still cold and wet, consider covering the site with a plastic sheet.


·    When seedlings grow to certain size, you will need to transplant them to bigger pots or to the garden.

·    Mix some slow release fertilizers (such as 16-16-16) in the soil whether when you transplant.

·    Prepare your plants for the outside world (your garden): You should set the plants you started indoors or in your greenhouse out during the day and bring them in at night for a few days just before you transplant them. This process is call hardening off.

·    Space the plants properly. They may look small and have too much space at first; soon you will be glad you give each plant enough room to grow. (Or sorry if you didn’t)


Damping off:

Damping off

·    Damping off is a term used to describe the rotting of seedlings underground or at soil line due to unknown cause. Although there are other causes, soil born diseases contribute a large part of damping off. Fungi can develop if the soil is not sterile and causing the seedlings to rot.

·    In pre-emergence damping off, the seeds may rot and seedlings may never emerge.

·    In post-emergence damping off, the seedlings will look pale, curl, wilt and collapse

How to prevent damping off

·    Use high quality, vital seeds. The fresher the seeds the more vital it is. The longer it takes the sees to germinate, the more chances you may have for pre-emergence damping off. This may be the reason when sometimes the seeds you planted never come up. Vital seeds germinate faster and therefore can prevent the pre-emergence damping off

·    Use good sterile soil

·    Avoid excessive watering.