If you’re new to sowing vegetable seeds it can be a daunting prospect – so many different types, so many different possible ways to grow them; where to begin?
I recently came across a website called growingfromseeds.com that has this really useful list of checkpoints –
Sowing Vegetable Seeds
Start with clean containers that allow drainage. Clear plastic dome covers, “mini-greenhouses,” are very helpful in the germination process to maintain moist conditions and hold in warmth.
Use a good sterile potting soil (seed starting mixes are available) to fill the containers. Do not use soil from your garden. Moisten the soil so that it is damp (not wet) and fill just shy of the top of the container.
Place one to two seeds on top of the soil. Sprinkle lightly with more soil, to cover the seeds. Follow package directions for depth. (If you plant too deep, the seeds will come up, it just may take a little longer.)
Mist to moisten the top layer and cover with plastic dome to keep moist. (You don’t need the dome, but it helps keep in the moisture.)
Place in a warm location, such as the top of the fridge, near the furnace or on top of a special heating mat. Remember to check the seed package for the germination instructions.
In two to 14 days seeds will sprout. Remove the plastic cover and water from the bottom.
Provide as much sunlight or artificial light as possible. It is recommended that grow light be within two to three inches of the foliage and set for 18 hours on and six hours off. If using natural light on a sill, mirrors and aluminum foil can be used to intensify the gloomy winter sun. An unobstructed southwest exposure is the best.
Check the water and mist everyday. Let the soil dry, but never let the sprouts wilt.
Fans provide good air circulation and help produce stronger roots and stockier seedlings.
A water soluble, balanced fertilizer should be added when the first true leaves begin to appear. (Second set of leaves.)
Transplant when the soil dries out too quickly or when the roots have reached the drainage holes. Again, use clean pots or six packs depending on the plants.
Gradually harden off seedlings, adapting them to the light and temperatures of the outdoors a few hours at a time, before transplanting to the garden.
I have to say that I’ve never used a fan, so I can’t honestly comment on whether or not using one makes all that much difference. But what I can say for sure is that it certainly isn’t necessary to use one so don’t feel you have to rush out and buy one.
I also never bother using fertilizer on seedlings – just potting them into fresh compost in a bigger pot, or else planting out into the garden should give them all the nutrients they need, so again I wouldn’t get too hung up about this point either.
But all in all it’s good basic advice and if you follow it when you’re sowing vegetable seeds you won’t go far wrong.