Guest Write

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Common Seed Starting Mistakes



Growing your flowers and veggies from seed is a fun and frugal way to get a head start on spring gardening. Although starting plants from seed may be cheaper than buying starts from the garden center it's easy to mess up. It can be discouraging when you put a lot of effort into planting your little seeds and then they die or don't grow at all! Today we are going to look at some common seed starting mistakes and how to avoid them.

  • Planting too deep: You should plant your seeds no more that twice their length deep.  If you plant too deep they may not be able to find their way up out of the dirt.

  • Not enough / too much water: Too much water and the little roots will drown and rot. Too little and they will dry out and die. Use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.

  • Starting too soon:  If you start your seeds too soon it may not be warm enough for them to grow. Mother Nature is fickle. She may try to fool you with unseasonably warm temperatures and then bring in a cold blast and frosty weather.  Use this seed starting chart to help choose the best time to start.

  • Starting too late: Last year I waited waaay to long to plant my pumpkin seeds. They did grow and they grew nice and plump but they never turned from green to orange. It was sad and I ended up feeding the half- ripe pumpkins to my pigs. At least they got some enjoyment out of them.  Make sure you start your seeds early enough in the season that they have enough time to grow.

  • Labeling mistakes: Don't forget to label your little seedlings properly or you won't be able to tell your organic tomatoes from your heirloom beets!


  • Starting seeds indoors that can be sown outdoors:  Root vegetables like carrots and beets should be sown directly outdoors. Ditto with garlic and flower seeds like poppies.

Despite your best efforts, starting seeds can still be tricky business. I've had many failures and success as well but sometimes the best way we learn is from our mistakes.  Even if your seeds don't grow the first time, keep trying!

Do you have any seed starting tips? Let us know in  the comments!


10 comments:

  1. Oh my, how do you know so much? I am saving all your gardening tips to use next year when I have planned in my dreams to have a house with a garden.

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  2. Love these seed-starting tips. I already started some outdoor and some indoor seeds this season. It may have been a little early, but I was excited.

    I read to use a fan (half an hour a day) to blow on tomato seedlings to prevent them from being to spindly, and strengthen the stems. I'm trying it this year, and I'll let you know how it goes.

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    1. Never heard of using a fan before. Great tip! Please do let me know how it goes!

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  3. Great gardening advice! My biggest mistake is planting too early.

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  4. anyone else have trouble with mold growing in their starters? this is my first time planting anything really and i tried to make little mini green houses out of plastic containers and toilet paper rolls..i think i used to much water..my tomato plants are growing but there was white mold growing on the outside of the toilet paper rolls... does this mean i have to chuck the whole thing..dirt and all??? i scraped all that i could see off of the outside..idk

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    1. Hi Brandy,
      It might just be mold on the paper containers. If the plant is still growing and looks healthy you might be OK. If not all the seedlings are affected separate the ones with mold from the others. Try to remove the tp rolls and replant into a different container. They might be too small to be able to transplant but it's worth a shot!

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  5. nice, thank you, very inspiring!

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