Organic Seed Starting Guide | Seed Propagation, Organically

Start your own seeds and you can be sure that your plants have been raised organically from first to last. And by sprouting and nursing your own seedlings, you don't have to wait for warm weather to get your hands dirty. Best of all, starting your own seeds is easy and fun. Here's how to get started now:

 
 
 
 
 
Getting Started...
 
     
 

Indoor Seed Starting

 
 

Seven Steps to Indoor Seed Starting: 1.) Prepare 2.) Plant 3.) Water
4.) Light 5.) Food 6.) Space 7.) Transplant

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Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Herbs, Tobacco

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...an alphabetical guide
by variety

 
 

When to start
seeds indoors...

     
 

Seed Starting Calander

 
 

Seed Starting Calendar Chart | When to Start Seeds Indoors

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Food   Water   Light   Space

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...how to care for starts and seedlings

 
   

All you need to know for successful transplanting...

 
   
     
   
 

Root Preparation,
Hardening Off, & Transplanting

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Video instruction for starting seeds...

     
   
 

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Why Start Your Seeds Indoors?

Apart from the satisfying process of nurturing little green seedlings under your roof, practical reasons exist to start some of your seeds indoors. First, well-established young plants will produce earlier, thus giving you more vegetables in the end! Second, many more of your seeds will germinate (sprout) indoors under controled conditions. And third, it's just fun to play with plants when it's cold outside!

What you will need

A Sunny Window
Plants like a southern exposure. If you don't have a window that will do, consider investing in some cool-white florescent bulbs.

Containers
Try all kinds to see what works for you. Make sure they are clean and have good drainage. If you are using a fiber or peat pot, soak it well before adding soil. Dry fiber pots draw moisture away from the soil.

Seeds
You'll get the best results if you purchase fresh seeds, packaged for the upcoming growing season. If you have saved seeds that you purchased last year, test the germination rate before planting.

Some plants lend themselves to home germination better than others. Surefire vegetables include basil, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, peppers, and tomatoes

Growing Medium
Nothing beats a good commercial medium because it is sterile and free of unwanted weed seeds. If you want to make your own, here are a couple of good recipes:

Get the timing down
To calculate when to sow your seeds, go to our seed-starting chart, print it out and then fill in the blanks. Then you will have a planting plan you can follow through the season.

Sow carefully
Moisten your medium in the containers before sowing the seeds. Next, drop seeds onto the surface of the mix, spacing them as evenly as possible. Cover the seeds to a depth about three times the thickness of the seeds.

Top it off
Lightly sprinkle milled sphagnum moss, a natural fungicide, over everything to protect against damping-off, a fungal disease that rots seeds and seedlings. In the case of seeds that need light to germinate, sprinkle the moss first and then drop the seeds onto the moss.

Keep seeds cozy
Cover the flats with plastic wrap or glass to keep the environment humid and place them near a heat vent or on a heat mat made especially for seed starting. Most seeds germinate well at about 70 degrees F.

Cool down
Seedlings don't have to stay as warm as germinating seeds. Move them away from radiators and air vents, or off the heating mat, as soon they have germinated.

Pet them
Lightly ruffling seedlings once or twice a day with your hand or a piece of cardboard helps them to grow stocky and strong. Or, set up a small fan to gently, continuously blow on your seedlings.

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