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Starting From Scratch - Grow From Seed

The time has come to start planting out seeds. There is a whisper in the air of spring. The days are lighter and there are flowers starting to bloom again. I always feel a special kind of excitement. Planting seeds is possibly my most favourite thing in the world to do. I can get lost for hours and days in my own dialogue with these miracles of potential. Dreaming in to being their beauty.  

Here in Cornwall, it has been a very slow, damp start to these changes but this step-by-step guide will get you going so when the weather changes your seedlings will be ready to go into your garden. 

Seed Starting Indoors: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Cultivating your own plants from seeds indoors is a rewarding experience! This guide

will take you through everything you need to know, from gathering supplies to

transplanting your happy seedlings outside.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

• Seeds: By now you have chosen and purchased the seed varieties you wish

to grow. If you haven’t – get shopping! Choose from reputable organic seed

companies. Check seed packets for specific planting information.

•Planting Containers: Seed starting trays with drainage holes are ideal. You

can also upcycle containers like egg cartons or yogurt cups, but ensure


•Seed Starting Mix: This lightweight, well-draining mix is crucial for

germination. I use a mix of organic compost and add a few handfuls of

vermiculite or perlite especially for the very fine seeds.

• Water Source: A mister is helpful or a fine watering can nozzle.

• Light Source: Seedlings need plenty of light! All my sunny windowsills are

chocka block with trays. A greenhouse or polytunnel is great of course.

• Plant labels – I use wooden ice cream sticks or reuse plastic plant labels

each season. Or cut plastic strips from waste containers and have a marking

pen available.

• Optional: Heat mat - promotes germination, especially seeds that need a

warm soil to germinate like chillies, tomatoes and peppers. A Humidity dome

traps the moisture and heat.

Step 2: Prepare Your Planting Trays

1. Mix the seed starting mix together. 10 parts compost to 1 part vermiculite or

perlite or both. Pour it into your containers, leaving about ½ inch of space at

the top.

2. Tamp down the mix gently to create a smooth surface.

3. Water well and leave to drain.

Step 3: Sow the Seeds

• Refer to seed packet instructions for planting depth and spacing


• For tiny seeds, you can sow them directly on the surface and gently press

them in. Sprinkle a little vermiculite just to cover them.

• Larger seeds might need a shallow hole made by pressing in to create a hole.

Cover as high as the length of the seed – no more or they struggle to find the


Step 4: Label Your Seeds

Use plant labels to mark the type of seed and planting date. This will help you

identify seedlings later.

Step 5: Keep Your Seeds Moist and Warm (Germination Stage)

•Water gently using a mister or the bottom watering method (placing the tray in

a shallow dish of water until the mix is moist). Avoid overwatering.

• Cover the trays with a humidity dome or plastic wrap to retain moisture.

• Place the trays in a warm location.

Step 6: Light Up Their Lives (Seedling Stage)

• Once seeds germinate, usually within 1-2 weeks depending on the seed

variety. You can then move the seedlings to a slightly cooler location but they

still need to be protected, warm and have good light.

Step 7: Moving Day (Thinning and Transplanting)

• Once seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves (not the initial

seed leaves), it's time to thin.

• Gently remove weaker seedlings, leaving only the strongest ones.

• When seedlings have several sets of true leaves and their roots reach the

bottom of the container, they're ready to transplant into larger pots.

Step 8: Harden Off Your Seedlings

• Gradually introduce your seedlings to outdoor conditions before transplanting

them permanently.

• Take them outside for short periods in shaded areas, gradually increasing the

duration and sun exposure.

• This hardening-off process helps seedlings adapt to the harsher outdoor


Step 9: Transplanting Outdoors

• Wait until the danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures are warm

enough for your specific plants (refer to seed packet instructions).

• Choose a suitable location in your garden with proper sun and soil


• Carefully remove seedlings from their pots and transplant them into the

prepared soil.

• Water them thoroughly and continue to care for them according to their


Congratulations! You've successfully nurtured your seeds from tiny beginnings into

healthy seedlings ready to flourish outdoors. With a little care and attention, you'll be

enjoying the fruits and vegetables of your labour in no time.

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