How to Start Seeds for Your Family Garden

Starting seeds for a family garden

Seed Starting 101

Starting seeds for your family garden will help you provide fresh herbs, vegetables, and perhaps even fruit for your family year-round.

Save money and have some fun by starting garden seeds indoors. 

Use these easy seed-starting tips to get you started growing your favorite vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

This post may contain affiliate links which may mean I receive a commission when you click on a link, at no extra cost to you. I only link to things I love.

Items Needed

*Containers: Anything that can hold soil will work. Use recycled containers or old pots and be sure to punch a drainage hole in the bottom if there isn’t one already.

You may also prefer to use the specific seed starting trays I use. You can find them here

*Tray: Anything water resistant and large enough to hold all the seed containers. I prefer using these trays and they work well to keep my seed starting trays moist.

*Soil: Planting mix that contains compost. I have also had good results just starting seeds in coco coir. I find it retains moisture levels more evenly than even seed starting mixes. However, once you have one to two sets of leaves on your baby plants you will want to add some fish emulsion and kelp fertilizer to the water to give your growing plants some nutrients while they get big enough to transplant into the garden.

Click here for the fish emulsion and kelp fertilizer I use with my plants. 

*Mister: Any spray plastic bottle will do. These less decorative misters are preferable for more frequent use.

*Pencil to make holes in the seed starting mix to place the seed in.

*A garden marker to write on your labels. Other types of markers will fade in the light.

*Plant labels to keep track of what you have growing.

Trust me, you will end up starting so many different varieties you will forget which is which. A durable label and a garden marker is a must for maintaining some order and efficiency with your family garden. 

*Vegetable, Herb and/or flower seeds.

I get my vegetable seeds from MIgardener. I get my flower seeds from Floret Flower Farm. I get my herb seeds from Strictly Medicinal Herbs. 

I have had good luck with the quality of seeds from each of these online retailers. 

Timing

Start garden seeds no sooner than 6 weeks before the last killing frost in your area. This will give seeds plenty of time to germinate and develop into plants that are ready to be transplanted.

You can look up the date of your last frost on this website.

Prepare Containers

Fill containers with planting soil and make sure the soil is moist but not dripping wet.

Use the pencil to make holes in the soil. In general, the size of the hole should be around the size of the longest length of the seed you are starting. for very small seeds, I prefer to just stir up the top of the soil, drop them on top, pat the soil delicately flat, and then sprinkle with sand to provide a thin layer to cover the seed.

This is how my great aunts, who were spectacular home gardeners, would start all their seeds. Although, they used cleaned out plastick containers from their previously purchased subway salads as seed starting trays. You really can use any type of container as long as you can keep an eye on it as your seeds start to grow. 

Gently pick up the garden seeds with tweezers or your fingers and place one seed in each hole. Gently cover seeds with soil and press down lightly.

Mist the soil surface and place containers on the tray and cover with a damp towel. Place a tray in a warm location, unless the directions on your seed packet say otherwise. Make sure you keep the tray covered with a humidity dome until you see the seeds starting to sprout. Once they sprout you will want to remove the dome.

If you are using grow lights, I suggest these.

You will want to keep them 2-3 inches above the tops of the plants as they grow. 

Continue to mist with water daily, making sure your seed mixture doesn’t dry out. If your seedlings get off to a bad start they may not grow properly even if they seem to recover. So make sure to keep them evenly watered and provide plenty of direct sunlight during these first 4-6 weeks while they are growing.

Transplanting

In a few weeks, you’ll have healthy garden plants that will be ready for transplanting, typically when the second set of leaves appears on the stem you can start preparing them for transplanting. If you are not able to get them in the garden right away then make sure you are for sure adding the fish and kelp fertilizers to your water so they are getting enough nutrients to grow properly,

Before putting the plants outside permanent you will want to harden them off. Getting them used to the new outside sunlight and weather conditions is important for the success of your little plants. 

A few days before you are going to transplant, set the seeds trays out in the sun for a few hours at a time. Be sure to bring them back inside each day. Each day leave them for a little longer until they are outside for a full day. Then you are ready to put them in the ground. 

When transplanting, gently lift the seedlings out with a spoon, getting as much of the planting soil with each seedling as you can and then put them in the ground where you would like them to grow.

Follow the plant spacing guide on your seed packets and always water the newly transplanted plant thoroughly after putting it in the ground. 

Have a plan for regular watering. If you live somewhere that gets hot at any time during your growing season you will want to pay special attention to how your plants are responding to your watering. 

The easiest thing to do would be to set a sprinkler or soaker hose on a timer and make sure it is positioned to hit all your plants. 

Hopefully, this helps you get your plants off to a good start! You will learn what works best for your family based on your location and the amount of time you have to work in your garden. These are just general tips and some lessons I have learned tinkering in my garden over the last few years. 

What are you growing in your family’s garden? Let me know in the comments below!

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This post may contain affiliate links which may mean I receive a commission when you click on a link, at no extra cost to you. I only link to things I love.

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