Containers, seed starting mix, and labels
Make sure to have all your supplies ready. To see the supplies I use, refer to the https://www.shawnlvieth.com/seedstart1/ blog. or you may refer to the links at the end of the post.
Step 1. Set your containers and other supplies on a flat surface.
Step 2. Moisten your seed starting mix with warm water.
Step 3. Add water to mix until saturated, but not so wet that the soil drips water when squeezed.
Step 4. Fill in the seed tray with moistened starting mix, tamp the tray against the table to help settle the soil, and add soil until the tray is full. Do not compress the mix.
Step 5. Label the seeds you will sow and add the date of sowing. Don’t wait until later. It is likely you will forget which seeds you sowed. Save the seed packets for reference.
Step 6. I put the labels in before sowing the seed, because I know exactly how many of each seed will be in each tray. Alternatively, you can add the labels as you sow the seeds if you are putting multiple varieties in one tray. Make sure to only put seeds with similar germination requirements and timing in the same tray.
Step 7. Seed can range from large …..
Step 8. To very small
Step 9. I often use the envelope the seeds come in to sow very small seeds. If they are larger, I will pour them in my hand and drop them in each cell. I typically add two seeds to each cell to ensure as close to 100% germination per cell as possible. Seed that is not fresh (more than one year old) will have lower germination rates so additional seeds per cell may be beneficial.
Step 10. A toothpick may be useful for separating and planting very small seeds.
Step 11. Larger seeds are much easier to see, but small dark seeds are almost invisible once they hit the soil.
Step 12. Tamp down the seeds, as needed, to make sure they are making contact with the soil. I often use the end of a Sharpie marker. Another object may be used, just be sure the seeds are not likely to stick to it when touched.
Vermiculite, bottom trays, and clear dome lids
Step 13. Put the cell tray into a bottom tray without holes. This allows for watering from the bottom when needed as well as support for the seed trays.
Step 14. Cover the seeds with a fine dusting of vermiculite. You can also use a light layer of soil, but I prefer using vermiculite. It covers the seed and inhibits fungus growth on top of the mix.
Step 15. Cover the seed tray with a clear dome lid to maintain moisture.
Step 16. I am adding a soil probe for the thermostat that controls the temperature setting of my professional heat mat. I have the temperature set to 70 degrees. If you have a conventional heat mat, the temperature automatically adjusts to 10-15 degrees above the ambient temperature of the room the setup is in.
Step 17. Here is my seed set up on my 5 ft long heat mats. These heat mats are daisy chained to each other. You do not need to have your light source on yet. It will not aid in germination. The black cover on the left hand side of the rack is a flat with Larkspur. It has a black cover to provide darkness. This seed germinates in cooler conditions and darkness. Therefore, it is not on the heat mat and does not have a clear cover. Be sure to read the seed package to see the best ways to sow particular seeds.
Note: I would not recommend Bupleurum, Poppies, Lisianthus, Bells of Ireland, or Larkspur for your first indoor seed sowing experience. They demand special conditions to germinate that are more difficult to achieve indoors. Great easy germinators indoors are Zinnia, Cosmos, Strawflower, Sunflower, and Snapdragons. Yarrow is the easiest perennial I have grown from seed. It typically will flower in the first season which is not common for perennials grown from seed.
Here are a few of the products I prefer when seed starting…
Bootstrap Farmer 72 Cell Seed Starter Tray–
Very durable for reuse each year
Bootstrap Farmer 1020 Trays (bottom trays, no holes)
Very durable for reuse each year, I have yet to crack or break one
Johnny’s Selected Seeds Madame Butterfly Bronze Snapdragons
Consistent and reliable seed source
Burpee Fine Grade Horticultural Vermiculite
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