Why Start Plants from Seed?

 Why Start Plants from Seed?

Save Money!

Plants purchased from nurseries and plants I started cost at least a few dollars and can certainly cost more than five dollars each. On the other hand, a package of 25 to 100 seeds can cost as little as 99 cents, or as little as a few dollars, and each seed has the potential to grow into a full plant!

Choose all your plants!

When you buy from a store or nursery, you are limited to what you can purchase from their existing inventory. This may mean that you cannot find some of the heirloom varieties or new varieties you want to grow. But when you start growing your plants from seed, you have to choose what you want to grow! You are only limited by the seeds you can find to purchase, and with so many options online, you are almost certain to find what you want.

Control how your plants grow!

Starting to grow your own allows you to decide which growing medium you want to use, which is great news if you are an organic gardener. Plants purchased from a nursery may or may not start in the soil of your choice.

Enjoy and learn!

Different management strategies are necessary at various phases of plant development. If you've never planted seeds or managed plants before, this is your chance to learn a new skill! If you have young children, it is also a fun and enjoyable experience for them to share with you.

A seed needs basic things to start growing.

We call the initial seeds “sprouting” and all it takes is a few things!

Temperature: Most seeds prefer a soil temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Moisture: Seeds need water to “come back to life”!
Light sometimes: Some seeds prefer to be exposed to a light source that simulates sunlight.

Supplies for Starting Seeds Indoors
Something to put them in
Light source
Heat Source
Something to label your seed containers with

Where to Keep Seed Containers in Your Home

You don't really need a lot of space to start some seeds so you can have plants for your garden.

You can place the seed container:
In the windows in the south-facing windows
On small tables under LED lights
In a closet with a lamp above it.
Really anywhere in your home that has a flat surface that you can hang a light on or that gets sunlight most of the day!


You also don't need a fancy setup to provide light to your plants. You can certainly use a free light source in the sky to start your seeds and grow your plants, but most small plants will do better with artificial, albeit more controlled, light sources.

You don't need to buy special and expensive "grow lights". However, if this is your thing, you are definitely welcome. I use old fluorescent tube lights and long LED bulbs. Seed trays fit in any small or awkward space, as long as they are close enough to an outlet to install lights.

I used scrap 2x4 pieces to make a temporary hanger for a simple fluorescent lamp that I hung over a small table. You can get creative and find ways to hang lights!

Heat Sources

You can also easily provide heat sources for your plants, even if you don't have a lot of space! I personally use the heat of lights as my only heat source for starting seeds indoors. For the first few days after planting, I cover the trays with basic plastic wrap from the grocery store to keep them warm and moist. After a few days, I remove the plastic wrap to prevent mold growth.

Other heating options include special heating pads that can be placed under your seed trays and containers. You can also get creative and place the containers on the heater or radiator, just make sure it is safe to do so and not a fire risk.

Get Your Seeds, Soil, and Containers
Acquiring Seeds to Start

You can purchase seed packets from many places, such as online retailers, any hardware store, specialty seed companies, and even your grocery store. I personally had a great experience with Johnny Seeds.

You can also search for seed exchange programs, either nationally or in your area. Of course, you can save seeds from your own plants, provided they are not hybrid varieties.

Keep in mind that some plants cannot be started from seed, at least if you want a specific variety you may be familiar with. These include most modern fruit trees, berry bushes and other fruit-bearing plants, which usually need to be purchased as bare-root plants.

Planting Mediums for Starting Seeds: Soil

Seeds need a mixture of organic matter with the right texture to germinate and begin growing. It is possible to use simple potting soil, and I have often done so successfully, but it is recommended to use a special medium called seed mix. According to the University of MN Extension, they are typically made of peat and vermiculite and contain no soil (or the potential for contamination from bacteria and weed seeds).

If you don't want to buy a commercially prepared seed mix, you can purchase peat and vermiculite separately from garden supply companies and mix them yourself.

Don't just collect some soil for your garden or garden and try to plant seeds in it - it will likely cause rot and weeds and will be too heavy and dense for your seeds to get off to a good start.

Seed pots and trays.

You need something to put your seeds and seed mix into! I prefer the classic black plastic seed trays with single cells. Yes, they're not the most environmentally friendly option, but they're pretty cheap for a lot of them. I keep them year after year, washing them between seasons rather than throwing them away after one use.

You can really use any container that will initially hold your seeds, such as plastic cups, sour cream or yogurt containers, or milk jugs with a cut-off top. Just be sure to drill several small holes in the bottom of your DIY seed starting containers for drainage.

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