5 Tips for the Newby Seed Starter

Today, I’m continuing to work on my front yard cut flower garden. I shared the plans for this front yard cottage garden bed yesterday. If you’re new to gardening, indoor seed starting is an easy and fun way to grow flowers inexpensively. Everything I’m using to start my seeds can be purchased from your local home improvement store or garden center. I’m going to be sharing the materials you need to start seeds indoors and also 5 tips for the newby seed starter.

Materials You Need to Start Seeds

I’m starting my seeds in seed trays that come with expandable pellets and I’m placing heat mats under each tray to encourage the seeds to sprout. A seed tray and heat mat could run a total of about $35 and you get 72 flowers/plants. Seed packets range anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 a packet and usually come with more seeds than you could possibly use. Quiet an affordable option for a new gardener. All of this, once planted, will then go into our little white solar shed to sprout and hopefully grow.

A photo of our solar shed from last year. Landscaping around our shed is definitely on the list of priorities for this year too!

5 Tips for the Newby Seed Starter

This is my 3rd year to start seeds but I definitely still consider myself a novice. I have learned a few tidbits over the past few years that I wish someone had told me.

Tip #1: Give them some air to breathe once they sprout.

Once your seedlings have sprouted, crack or remove the plastic top. Too much moisture can cause them to wilt.

Tip #2: Remove the seedlings from the heat mat once they sprout.

Once the seedlings start to sprout, you should remove them from the heat mat. This sometimes means playing musical chairs with seedlings because they don’t always sprout all at the same time. I’m going to have 3 seed trays and 2 heat mats and then just rotate in my “bench warmers” once other seedlings sprout.

Tip #3: Windowsills aren’t the best place to grow seeds but they can work.

My windowsill seedlings from 2018
My seedlings in the upstairs windowsill from my first year of seed starting.

Most people do not recommend putting seedlings in a windowsill because they tend to have cold drafts. I did this my first year of growing seeds because we didn’t have a solar shed yet. I was able to grow my seedlings just fine but I did move them onto the floor at night and kept the room warm. If you have to do this, just keep them away from cold drafts as much as you can.

Tip #4: Look for seeds that will bloom within the next 30-90 days.

Snapdragons, for instance, are super pretty and easy to grow and bloom within 55 days of planting, giving you pretty quick gratification for all that hard work you did in caring for your seedlings. If you start them now, you will have snapdragon blooms by the end of March. What you want to avoid is getting to Spring and having a bunch of seedlings with no blooms.

Tip #5: Before you get started, grab a glass of water and a toothpick.

You will not be drinking this water! Seeds can be very small and the water and toothpick help with planting. Wet the toothpick in the water and then use the toothpick to pick up the seeds and push them into the pellet, rather than using your finger. Don’t worry if you end up planting a few together. You can thin them out later.

My Seed Starting Underway

You can see the play-by-play of my first two trays I’m starting below. The Salvia and Coleus, shown below, will be used in our more shady spots in the yard and not my full sun garden. I also planted some Calendula and Giant Zinnia seeds (not featured below) that I found in my solar shed from years past. We’ll see if those are still viable or if I need to purchase more.

Now, all that is left is to monitor the trays daily and ensure the seed trays stay moist and warm. Hopefully, I’ll have tons of seedlings to show you in the next few weeks!

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