Starting seeds indoors is great way to make your garden successful from the start. Nurturing and watching seedlings grow from nothing into a fully grown plant can be incredibly rewarding.
Gardeners have asked how to be more successful with starting their own seeds and the problems usually boil down to simple, common mistakes. Here are the three most common mistakes and how to fix them.
1. Problem: Not Enough Light
A common mistake beginner seed starters make is not giving their seeds enough light. New seeds need a lot of light to get growing. You can start with a south facing window, but if it doesn’t get 6+ hours a day, it probably won’t do.
Solution: Artificial lights.
Using grow lights, found at your local garden center, can provide the ample amount of light your seedlings need. Hang lights from chains, so you can lower and raise them as they grow. Keep lights about 2-3 inches above the seedlings.
2. Problem: Too Much or Not Enough Water
This is the most challenging part about starting seeds. Seedlings are incredibly delicate and need to be watered just right. Keep potting mix moist, but not wet.
Solution: Check seedlings regularly.
First, cover your seed starting container with plastic until the seeds germinate. This will trap any moisture in and will help keep the soil moist. Use a misting spray bottle until seedlings appear to avoid overwatering. Once your seedlings are established, water from the bottom. Your container should have drainage holes, so let your plants soak up the water from the holes to minimalize the risk of overwatering. Lastly, check your plants every day.
3. Problem: Starting Too Soon
Many beginners try to start seeds as soon as they buy them, instead of when the package advises. We all get a little excited to have green plants growing again, but if started too soon, they can die off from the cold.
Solution: Find out when your expected last frost is.
Seeds should usually be started four to six weeks before your last frost date. This will ensure that by the time your seedlings are ready to be transplanted, your soil will have started to warm up. You may need to place your seedlings outside during the day and bring them in at night for a few days to get them acclimated to the outside temperatures. Before you plant your seedlings in the ground, use Espoma’s Bio-Tone Starter Fertilizer to give your soil and new seedlings the head start they deserve.
In a few short weeks you’ll be ready to transplant!