Successful Seed Starting

person's hands starting seeds at Reiman Gardens

Starting your own vegetables and annual flowers from seed is easy, inexpensive, and a great way to grow new or unusual plants since the variety of plants available by seed is much greater than most local garden centers. Here are a few tips to assure success:

  • Start with fresh seed.¬†Germination rates usually drop dramatically on seed more than a couple years old.
  • Schedule carefully. Many seeds require starting indoors 6 to 12 weeks before planting outdoors. Check the package and count back from the first likely frost- free date in your area, when you would plant your seedlings outdoors.
  • Use a germination mix. This well-drained, fine-textured soil is perfect for seeds.
  • Provide bottom heat, if possible. Warming the soil will speed up germination. After germination, keep seedlings on the cool side to prevent lanky growth.
  • Provide plenty of light. This is often the most difficult part. A windowsill is generally not adequate. To prevent lanky seedlings, grow under artificial light placed 4 to 6 inches from the growing seedlings.

— Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs