How to start seeds for your organic garden:
1. Quality organic potting soil
2. Trays without holes
3. 4 inch starter pots or 6 cell seed pots that will fit in your tray
4. Water pump sprayer, or mister (any cheap spray bottle will work just fine)
5. Seeds for your garden
The most important part of starting seeds is finding a quality medium to plant them in. There are alot of seed starting soils and peat pucks and whatnot to use, but most are very difficult to use or just plain don't work. Your working against yourself before you even start planting your seeds. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a quality organic potting soil to use whenever you need that has enough nutrients and minerals to grow any seed or plant. Once you have selected you soil, make sure that it is moist to the touch. Dry soil, especially peat based, will turn hydrophobic when dry and will become very hard to rewet. Once moist, gently scoop your pot into the soil to fill it up. Do not pack down, just light tap to settle soil into pot, do not pack it down, that's important.
Next you have to decide how the seeds are to be planted. Some seeds like lettuce are very very small so I reccomend sprinkling 10 or so seeds per 4 inch pot or maybe 20 seeds in a 6 cell pack and you can thin out later and pot up into its own container when it gets bigger. With bigger seeds you would do 1 plant per 4 inch pot or 6 per 6 cell pack. Once your ready to plant poke a hole in the soil in your pot and place seed in. Then spray some water onto seed in hole and cover with soil. Then spray top of soil with water until moist. You are not waterring with the sprayer just moisten the top. Continue to fill your pots and/or cell packs until your tray is full.
Now you can add around a 1/4 of a gallon of water to your tray, or enough to make sure that the water is around 1/2 up the side of the containers in the tray and your pots will wick up the water. DO NOT TOPWATER. This is the biggest mistake made in seed starting and I cannot stress enough how important soil aeration is to seedlings.
Now that your seeds are in the soil, they've been watered, you need to do a weight check. Pick up a watered pot and feel how heavy it is. Now you won't need to water again for about a week since your seedling will not need much until it's roots really get going, overwatering will hinder growth and can kill seedling very fast. Better to wait until you notice how light the pots are and say it's time to add another 1/4 gallon or so. We bottom water because that trains the roots to grow down to their water souce. This also keeps the soil aerated and fluffy unlike topwatering which waterlogs and compacts soil.
Now, lighting is essential for healthy seedlings. If you put them by your window they will get leggy and want to fall over. You can buy cheap light setups on the internet like a 4 ft t5 with a stand that will work just fine. I used them for years and they are easy to use and work amazing. Just keep the light about 4 to 6 in above the plants at all times and you will grow healthy seedlings.
Once your seedlings are about 6 in tall they are ready to be hardened off. This means that you need to bring them outside for a few hours a day into natural sunlight for them to adjust to the harsh suns rays. When putting them out for then first couple days, as soon as you see them starting to wilt that's when it's time to bring them back in and wait again until tomrorow and repeat. Eventually your plants will adjust in around 4 to 7 days and be ready to plant in the garden.
I hope this helps everyone understand starting your own seedlings better!
If anyone has any questions please feel free to email us anytime and we will help anyway we can.
The Soil Makers
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