Common Mistakes Made Growing from Seed

It’s exciting to start growing herbs and vegetables from seeds but what happens when things go wrong?

You get your seeds ready, put them in the potting soil in your seed starter tray or pots and give them a spray of water to dampen the soil.
Then you put it in a sunny location on your windowsill.
Now you wait.
And wait.
Eventually some seeds start sprouting and you get excited. It’s happening!
Visions of a large flourishing herb and vegetable garden start swimming before your eyes.
But then some seeds die off for no reasons.
Eventually some seeds start sprouting and you get excited. It’s happening!

Visions of a large flourishing herb and vegetable garden start swimming before your eyes.

But then some seeds die off for no reasons.

Then you get frustrated and have to buy vegetable starters because the seeds you bought to save money on plants weren’t successful.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you start plants from seeds.

  1. Know which seeds should be started indoors.

Some herbs and vegetables will grow easier when planted directly into the garden.

Others need care with germination and will do better being started from seeds indoors. Peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are often started indoors to give them a head start on the growing season.

Other vegetables to start indoors include: kale, leeks, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, cauliflower, collards, onion, scallions, shallots and tomatillos.

Herbs like thyme, basil, chives, sage and tarragon are better started indoors as the seeds are fine and need a long germination period. Start them inside in March so they are ready to be transplanted into the garden by mid or late May.

  1. Starts your seeds at the right time.

One of the easiest ways to determine this is to look at the back of the seed packet which will let you know how long it takes for the seed to germinate.

Start too early and plants will be overgrown and unwieldy when it’s warm enough to plant them. Start too late and the seedlings will be weak and puny.

The end of February or beginning of March is a good time to start seeds indoors. The days are longer and brighter so ensure you have them on a sunny windowsill.

  1. Choose the right potting soil.

The soil mix the seeds are started in is very important as this will give them the nutrients they need to grow. If the seedlings turn yellow, it’s because they’ve used up the nutrients from a poor soil mix.

The seedlings will be more susceptible to pests and diseases in the garden if they don’t get the right nutrients. You want the seedlings to remain a deep, dark green the entire time.

First, don’t use soil from your own garden as it will contain weeds, pests and diseases.

Look for a soil with peat moss or vermiculite to retain moisture, perlite or sand to facilitate drainage and compost or blood meal to supply nutrients.

If you grow Comfrey, you can make an herbal fertilizer by soaking the leaves in water. This can be used on the seedlings once a week or so to encourage growth.

  1. Stop trying to grow seedlings in front of your window

The seedlings need overhead light. They will get lean and stretched out skinny while searching for more light.

The caveat to this is to ensure you rotate your starter trays so the plants can move in the opposite direction. This way they will have even growth. Keep an eye on it so the seedlings will grow evenly.

  1. Know what seeds need to germinate

Some people soak their seeds prior to putting them in the ground. That can be a good way to give them a head start. But seeds also need a good combination of warm soil (either from sun or grow lights), moisture, air and light.

Seeds need to remain consistently moist but not soaking wet, as they will just rot. Use a water bottle with a mister to keep the seeds moist.

  1. Avoid Overwatering

There is a tendency to overwater, which causes ‘damping off’ when the plant rots where the stem meets the soil’s surface.

Let the soil dry out about 80% between watering sessions but make sure it doesn’t get bone dry. This is why it’s critical to check on your seeds every day so you can see whether they need water or not.

  1. Putting too many seeds in one area

Make sure seeds have room to grow, so they are not competing for soil and sunlight along with other seeds.

If two of them are growing closely together, yank one to ensure enough room is provided. Scallions is one exception to the rule.

  1. Keep records

Take photos and keep records so you know where you are having success and what is going wrong.

It’s hard to trust your memory from what you did last year.
These simple measures can help you get more success with gardening this year.

This article was first published in the March 2022 issue of the Herbal Collective. To get every issue of the digital magazine, make sure to visit Herbal Collective Magazine.





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