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May 28, 2024
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Gardening: Germination Begins!

A tray of seed mixture in containers
A tray of seed mixture in containers
Under the grow lights
Under the grow lights
March 08, 2007

I finally got my first seeds started on the road to germination, planting them in a special potting mixture that is sterile and free of weeds. I bought my seed starting medium but you can also make your own with vermiculite, sphagnum moss, sand and perlite.

To start the seedlings, I use black plastic flats that hold 32 containers that come in groups of four. You can also recycle egg containers or milk containers, but be sure to puncture them so that water can drain. I use the same flats of containers from year to year, so my first chore is cleaning them out so that they are free of any disease.

I put potting mixture in each container, filling it until about 1/4 inch below the rim, then wetted it down with warm water. I planted brandywine tomato seeds, peppers, broccoli and some salad greens that expect to start eating in April. I am still waiting for the Brussels sprouts and Marzano tomato seeds to arrive.

I put three seeds on the soil in each container, pushing them down a bit, then spread a layer of potting mixture on top. Then I water them gently with hot tap water and place a plastic cover over the tray of containers and put them under the grow lights.

For seeds to germinate, they don’t need sunlight, but they do like warmth. Last year I moved my grow lights into the basement where they sit right next to the oil burner. Although the lights aren’t necessary at this stage of germination, I turned them on to add some extra warmth to the environment.

If you don’t have grow lights – fear not. For three seasons I grew my seedlings in front of bedroom windows that face south. To increase the sunlight, I placed silver windshield covers behind the seedlings and reflected the light back onto the plants. The danger of this method is that the seedlings can easily become long and spindly, so be sure to choose your sunniest spot.

Finally, before finishing, I labeled each tray with the type of seeds planted there. In the weeks ahead I will be moving the trays around a lot as some of the seedlings outgrow their containers and I know from past experience how easy it is to loose track of which seedling is which, especially if you are growing perennials!

If anyone has any tips about the germination of seeds, please leave a comment below.


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