Common Mistakes People Make When Seed Starting
If your anything like me every room in your house will currently have trays and pots of seedlings you are nurturing. All ready to be transplanted into the garden when it gets a little warmer.
If you didn’t see our blog post last week it includes a helpful list of seeds you can start in February so you too can be surrounded by sprouting seeds.
Growing your own produce from seed can be very economical, not to mention rewarding! However, it is not without its challenges.
That is why I have put together a helpful guide explaining what not to do when seed-starting.
Not Enough Light
Even the sunniest of window sills will struggle to produce enough light to grow strong, sturdy, healthy plants. This is why it is a great idea to invest in some artificial light sources to achieve the right amount of light. This also helps you to achieve a consistent amount of light which is also very beneficial.
When purchasing your lights you don’t have to spend a lot of money but one thing to note is you should be able to raise the lights higher as your seedlings grow. This is because you will want your lights to be approximately 2-3 inches away from the plants at all times. Keep them on for 12-16 hours a day and you will grow strong, healthy plants.
Too Much or Too Little Water
The right amount of water is hard enough to get right when your plants are established so when they are fragile, young seedlings it is even harder to judge. Damp but not wet is best.
A great thing to do is to cover your pots or trays with clear plastic until the seeds have germinated. This helps keep the moisture in so you won’t have to water them so often. Another tip is to water from the bottom, this reduces the risk of over-watering.
Starting Too Early
This is only usually an issue when starting your seeds outside or in a cold greenhouse but it can also apply if your house is particularly cold. Many plants do not tolerate cold temperatures and your plants become stressed if they get too cold. This can then make them more susceptible to pests and diseases. Many vegetable seeds are fast germinating so they may not need to be started as early as you think!
Planting Seeds Too Deep
Every seed type varies when it comes to how deep they should be planted. Some seeds need to be planted deeply because they need complete darkness in order to germinate, whilst others need light to germinate so prefer to be planted under a very thin layer of soil. If your seed packet does not tell you how deep to plant your seeds the best practice to plant them 2-3 times deep as they are wide.
Moving Your Seedlings Outdoors Too Early
Seedlings need a lot of care and attention, you will not be able to just plant the seeds and then come back to them in a few weeks to transplant them. When your seedlings are large and strong enough to plant outside you will need to go through the process of hardening them off. This is essentially preparing them for outdoor conditions, mainly the different types of weather conditions. You will need to expose your seedlings to the elements gradually. On the first day put them outside for an hour then bring them back in, and gradually increase the time over the next 7-10 days.
Sowing Too Many Seeds At Once
This is a common mistake for beginners. Sowing too many seeds will make it difficult to manage as you will end up with more plants than you can handle. You won’t be able to give them all the care and attention they need to make it to maturity. It best for the first couple of years to start with a small amount of a few varieties and increase the quantity when your confidence increases.
Keeping Seeds Too cool
For the majority of seeds, they must be kept consistently warm to germinate. This is why many people choose to purchase heat mats to place under seed trays, as warm spots in your home can get cold in the evening so it’s hard to keep the consistency. Once your seedlings sprout, they can tolerate slightly more fluctuating temperatures.
Forgetting to label your seeds
This is an easy mistake to make, many of us forget to label our seed trays and pots and after a few weeks and many seed varieties later we can forget which was which. This can make it difficult to know where and when you should transplant them and more importantly how to care for them.
This is why almost all of our seed kits at Seed n Sow come with labelled seed markers, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to do it yourself!
Giving up too soon
It can be disheartening when seeds don’t germinate or if they don’t make it when you’ve nurtured them and then transplanted them into the garden. However, it really is the most rewarding thing when you cook a meal with produce you have grown in your own garden from seed. It takes a lot of dedication, attention and time but it is so worth it!
I hope this blog has been helpful and you are all feeling much more confident about your seed starting!