What is the best way to seed starting? Include an area for each function; Seed sorting/planting station, grow rack, hydroponic station, and soil area with table and pots. Make it functional and welcoming so you will want to be there every day.
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The best seed starting station is one that you are going to want to be in it day and night. I am one of those that stalks my seeds once I start them, as though they will grow faster. THIS IS MY HAPPY PLACE!
I am a space-challenged gardener and I have learned that you will want to have the essentials organized to succeed when you have many seeds starting at the same time.
Remember that if you want to start growing seeds and it is your first time therefore, you do not want to invest, then use only south-facing window where the ambient temperature is warm and create a humid environment on the tray with a lid or plastic wrap. Make sure your seeds are easy to reach to be able to maintain them daily.
A seed starting station that works well, is simple but functional. The areas include; a grow table for seed sorting and to sow seeds, an area for soil containers, a grow rack with lights, a shelf for pots, and a small hydroponic station to keep things growing indoors throughout the year.
INDOOR SEED STARTING SETUP
I am so excited that the seed starting time is here again! One of the best things I ever did in the garage was to set up my seed starting station. You don’t need a fancy area or a lot of square footage to get one set up, make your own choice for what you feel will work best for you; a wood self-system, wood shelves, or plastic shelving.
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A. What is on my Seed-Starting Station:
I love my little indoor growing station and have kept everything I need throughout the past years for growing season to work on my seeds. These are the following items I like to keep handy:
- Table with a stool to work on sorting my seeds, working on the planting calendar, logging planting dates, and sowing my seeds.
- A small hydroponic station on the table to start my favorite herb that I use most. In this house it will be chives. We are addicted!
- Small glass containers for sorting my seeds with labels.
- Plant Labels
- Storage Containers under the table for critical hydroponic growing items.
- Seed Envelopes
- The marble piece I have used since my husband built me this cute table top out of rustic wood. It is hard to find my seeds, so I use the marble to make it easier to see them, sort them, and grab them. I am also known for using just seed-starting soil with a little worm casting on top and nothing else on most vegetables.
I keep this table clean since some seeds are so small that they are hard to see and you can lose them so easily. The compact size of the station forces me to be organized.
B. Where do I keep my Soil Area in my Seed-Starting Station?
I keep the soil under the grow rack. The types of soils I like to keep on hand are:
- Two types of soil; coco coir and seed starting soil.
- Each soil is kept in plastic containers with a humidity dome, but get one that is a vented dome. I like a lid that has a small opening for the soil to breathe as it is kept moist.
- At times I create my seed-starting soil by adding perlite if needed to the seed-starting soil that has no chemicals. A much cheaper solution.
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Best Kept Secret to Prepare your Soil!
I keep my prepared soil in my seed starting station.
This process will drastically reduce gnats or other pests that may be dormant in the soil. To prepare the soil, I recommend the following steps:
- After placing the soil in your storage container, pour boiling water into it and stir thoroughly
2. Stir thoroughly until all of the soil is moist, not dripping wet, but making sure the hot water has covered all of it.
3. Cover the Soil with aluminum foil.
4. Allow to cool completely from a few hours to overnight. Make sure it is completely cool before using.
This process is a game changer, it has made it so much easier to grow my seedlings. when you start your seeds with the soil, make sure the soil has a humid environment, and do not use dry soil to start your seeds.
C. Grow Rack
If you are starting to grow seeds indoors, keep your grow rack simple. You can even use a window that gets good sunlight to grow a few seeds and experiment. To jump start germination station, determine the size of the area you have to work with to select the best shelving system for you.
You can find shelving for your seed-starting setups at Home Depot or through Amazon. The total cost will vary depending on what you end up getting in size and material.
For the best ways to set up a seed-starting station, you want to set up a grow rack with the following items. I would make sure to include:
- Any type of adjustable shelving; metal, plastic, wood.
- Add linear LED grow lights (some like to use shop lights, but I prefer LED’s) and tie them with zip tides. I use 3 lights per shelf. Select the light fixtures you would like, but make sure they have enough lumens to provide the right amount of light that the seeds require to grow with a full spectrum.
- Seedling Heat Mat that will help control the soil temperature. A heating pad will help with producing bottom heat, which is very important to seed germination success.
- Fans (one on each end of each shelf to keep the air flowing)
- Power Strip with Timer
D. Shelving For Best Results
As far as spacing on shelving; the perfect indoor start is the two shelves on the bottom, place closer together and the top ones allow more space. This method of having a couple of shelves that are closer to the light source solves the having to make the LED lights adjustable.
The adjustable lighting will help with the height of the lights from the seedling. You want to only be 2″ away from the seedling for the seeds to get enough light.
It will provide you with more flexibility depending on the size of your seedling and how close it needs to be to the light source. A good light system makes a big difference for optimum growth.
Heating mats will provide enough heat to increase the seed germination rates and even the speed of the germination. Make sure you know what the seed requires to germinate, cooler temperatures, or heat. Have a heatable space for those seeds that require it, such as pepper and tomatoes.
I like the compact size of the station and how much I can grow in a small amount of space. My gardening season begins here.
The silver mat showing on the shelf is an insulation panel that I cut to size and added silver tape to the edges. I just added this to have a solid surface to work on. It is not necessary, but this was an inexpensive way to achieve it.
E. Plant Pots and Seed Trays
I have a shelf with all of the different-sized pots, from small to larger containers to up pots, trays, and my favorite seed starting containers that have a clear bottom. But for seed starting, I love using the ones where you can see the root system developing, to know when it is ready to switch the seedling to a larger container. The bigger pots I keep on the floor, but I have a few in case I need them throughout the growing season.
Keep in mind, that you can start a lot of seeds, but as they grow, they will take a lot more space. Make sure you are going to have enough space to hold all of your different sizes and plastic trays, solid trays, watertight base tray and seedling containers until it is time to plant them outside.
Another thing to consider when deciding how many seeds to sow; at some point, you will need to train your seedling to accept sunlight. This is a lot of work and the more seeds you have, the more to keep track of.
Start small, concentrate your efforts on the few seeds that you want, and make sure to get the process down before getting too many seeds going at the same time.
Furthermore, you don’t have to buy new pots to get your seeds started. Once you are finish, make sure to clean the pots really well to use next season.
F. What can be used to make Planting Pots at Home?
There are so many ways you can use what you may have already:
- Newspaper pots
- Toilet Roll pots
- Egg containers
- Plastic containers
- Plastic cups
- Water plastic jugs
- Salad Container from the grocery store
If you can make a hole for drainage, you can use it. Getting creative will save you money while you get your healthier growth starts.
SHOP BELOW TO SET UP YOUR OWN GROW STATION!
WHEN DO I START SEEDS INDOORS
I have a big problem with seeds, I love them so much! The exploring of different foods from around the world and flowers is fascinating to me.
Every seed is different, so doing research will be critical when starting seeds. When starting seeds in your seed- starting station, you want the healthier seed for the best germination, therefore, storing the right way is critical. This is where the notebook is helpful to get organized.
I keep my plastic bins dedicated to my seeds and go through the seed packages in plenty of time to create my grow plan.
- The first thing is to find out the last day of frost in your zone. You can find this out by typing ‘last day of frost for (city, state) on google’. Keep in mind that this is an estimate, so watch the weather prior to planting outside your seedlings.
- Sort the seeds by looking at the back of the envelopes and locating the suggestions on planting.
- Last day of frost – weeks suggested for how long to have seeds indoors = day to start your seeds indoors
- If it is your first time growing seeds, start with herb seeds they are easy and produce a lot of healthy seedlings. The seed packets are very easy to get locally.
WHAT SEEDS SHOULD I START INDOORS FIRST
As a general rule I start my peppers, hot or sweet, okra, peas, sweet peas and most flowers seeds early. They take a very long time to start producing fruit and need a lot of heat. I am in the Pacific Northwest, which only has a few short months of good heat. Starting early will give me a head start.
You will need to look at your area and consider when is the best start date. But things like pepper and okra are great to start indoors early regardless of where you are if you can’t sow outdoors early in the season. The earlier, the more fruit you will get in the summer.
STEPS TO SEED STARTING
A. Selecting Seeds:
- Select your seed after looking at date suggested on package and subtracting from last day of frost in your area.
B. Plant Tags
2. Make your plant tag in advance and place with the seeds in the small glass. I have made the mistake of thinking I will remember and then, well, not quite. This simple step will make your gardening experience so much better. Seed starting is about the simple things that make the process easier, therefore, enjoyable.
Being organized really saves a lot of time. I like to organize everything to do with my plants and seeds. Checked out my post ‘ORGANIZING IDEAS DIY | PLANT TAG HACKS!’ READ HERE!
3. Moisten coco coir or seed soil and add to seed starting tray. See Best Kept Secret to Prepare your Soil above for steps. Compact soil placing it inside to fill each cell fully.
D. Placing Seeds on Seedling Trays
4. Place seed per seed packet instructions. I like to do two seeds per cell if one isn’t germinated. Simply cut one of them if they both germinate or transplant each to your pot when it is ready for repotting.
Very small seeds like lettuce greens can be placed on the top and cover with very little soil. Larger one follow instructions on the seed package for how deep, usually twice the deep as the height of the seed, but this will vary. Finish by adding your plant tag.
E. Watering Seeds
5. Spray soil with water. Some people like to sprinkle cinnamon or sprinkle perlite to prevent mold. But if you water properly and do the soil prep method I mentioned above you should not have to. I wait until I see any disease start before treating. It has worked very well for me, but you have both options. Remember that gardening is about experimenting and having fun, so you can try it both ways.
F. Putting Seed Tray Together
6. Insert a clear seed cell tray into the solid tray and add a clear plastic domes for controlling the right amount of humidity and a mini greenhouse effect. Better humidity control is achieved by keeping the top vent sealed and do not open the vent until most seeds have germinated. You may have some seeds that won’t germinate and that is normal. This is why I do an extra cell or two, this is the ideal way to get what you want, plant extra seeds.
G. Placing Seed Tray on Grow Rack
7. Place tray under grow light. Seeds don’t need light to grow, but will need it as soon as they come out and you may not know when that is. I recommend you keep them under the light and play it safe. But be aware that some seeds have to be in the dark. It is important to check before you proceed to place it in your grow rack.
Check out my post ‘HOW TO SAVE TOMATO SEEDS FOR NEXT YEAR FOR BEGINNERS!’
When the seed germinates, It is better to add water on the bottom tray when the seedling is visible. The roots will be trained to go down to get water and this will make for a stronger seedling.
NOW YOU WILL ACHIEVE YOUR DREAM GARDEN!
Watch this YouTube to learn another step you can take to get your seedling strong once it start growing! CLICK HERE!
Now that you know how to get your seeds going successfully, check out how to grow sweet peas. Check out ‘GROWING SWEET PEAS FROM SEED | MUST KNOW TIPS!‘
It is such a great way and fun process to watch what you know will be providing food and flowers for your family to enjoy. This food will be like no other, with a taste that you could never imagine. You will be saving your own seed soon.
You want to learn how to make flower arrangements with your new flowers? Check out ‘EASY FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS | DIY FOR BEGINNERS’.
The process of creating a seed starting station and starting your seeds will change your life, it changed mine. It is just a matter of keeping an eye on the seeds and watch it all grow. This experience is like no other.
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