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How (and why) to grow from seed

By Britt Leishman August 10, 2017 Gardening

Why grow from seed when the nursery provides beautiful little seedlings, all grown up and ready to plant?

Why grow from seed?

It’s not for the convenience, because you’ll put in a bit more effort than buying pre-grown seedlings, but there are several reasons why germinating seeds and growing from scratch is incredibly rewarding and a good idea for the enthusiastic gardener.

Some reasons why growing from seed is a must-do for any green thumb:

  • CHEAPER Seeds are generally very affordable, and you can even harvest your own from any of your plants in your garden or green wall.
  • TOTAL CONTROL If you’re growing organically, it’s really important to make sure your plants aren’t doused in pesticides from the get go. This keeps them - and you - healthier.
  • CHOICE Want to grow that random varietal of pepper, or try a new lettuce? Chances are that your nursery won’t be growing those in seedling packs for the everyday gardener. With growing from seed, you can try anything you want!
  • PREDICTABILITY This is the case if you’re growing from your own plants - you know how well that coriander grew, so take advantage of those great genetics and grow them again with seed from your favorite plant.
  • REWARDING It’s quite a notch on the belt to take an itty bitty seed from your favorite seed catalog and turn it into a stable garden plant that brings joy and produce for years to come.
  • GET A HEAD START Start nurturing seeds into seedlings in the warmer indoors means you can start on your plants before winter is officially over.

Growing from seed can be done in several ways. Here’s a YouTube video with over 60 000 views that shows the difference between germinating your seeds with a paper towel or with dirt before planting:

How to grow from seed tutorial

Here are some easy steps to get your own seeds germinating

1. PICK YOUR SEEDS If you’re doing this for the first time, choose some seeds that grow well and easily. Here are some nice beginner’s options:

  • Tomatoes
  • Looseleaf lettuce
  • Marigolds
  • Basil
  • Zinnia
  • Coleus
  • Nasturtium
  • Cosmos

2. FIND A SUNNY SPOT Plants need sunlight to grow, so find a sunny windowsill that gets a lot of light during the day.

3. FIND THE RIGHT CONTAINER It can be anything - but it needs to be two to three inches deep and have drainage holes. Some ideas include yogurt containers or paper cups, but your best bet is a seed tray. Not only is it easier to transplant the seedlings once they’re grown, they’re also literally designed to germinate seeds in and have the correct drainage and depth.

4. GET THE RIGHT SOIL Says Gardeners.com, “Choose potting soil that's made for growing seedlings. Do not use soil from your garden or re-use potting soil from your houseplants. Start with a fresh, sterile mix that will ensure healthy, disease-free seedlings.” Moisten the soil without making it sopping wet, and add some liquid fertilizer to add some nutrients into the mix.

5. PLANT THE SEEDS Depending on the package instructions, either sprinkle the seeds on the soil or dig a little deeper and bury them under the soil. It’s best to plant two seeds for each container, and snip the weaker of the two when they germinate. Keep the soil moist with a mister, but not too wet.

6. FEED THE SEED Keep the seeds moist, but not wet, and feed liquid fertilizer as specified by the packet instructions to make sure they have enough nutrients.

7. TOUGHEN THEM UP If you’re planting the seedlings outside, you’ll need to put them in protected spots where they can experience the wind and weather without getting damaged or harmed. After about a week, you can plant them.

Will you be trying your hand at germinating any seeds? Let us know which ones in the comments!

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