Essential Seed Starting Equipment
Part 1 of 4
If you are a true gardener, buying flowers, fruits, and veggies as starts just isn’t an option for you. You want to start your own garden from scratch, and that means starting all of your plants from seeds. But you’re going to need some seed starting equipment if you’re going to do it right. There are a lot of things needed to ensure that the seeds you plant can grow into strong seedlings and young plants. With the right seed starting supplies and equipment, you’ll get your garden started in no time.
Why You Need Seed Starting Equipment
When it comes to starting seeds, it’s not always best to plant them directly into the soil of your garden. You can’t control the climate, weather, and temperature outdoors, so a sudden cold snap, heatwave, deluge, or frost could kill off your seedlings. Remember: seeds and seedlings are very delicate, and they are easily damaged.
The reason that you need all the seed starting supplies listed below is that you want total control over the environment in which your seeds grow. By controlling the heat, light, and humidity of the seeds’ environment, you ensure that they have everything they need to grow into strong, healthy seedlings and young plants ready to be transplanted.
Seed Starting Containers
If you talk to gardening enthusiasts, you’ll find that most of them are divided into two camps when it comes to starting seeds in containers. Half of them will say that it’s always best to buy the seed-starting containers from a gardening store, while the other half will insist that you can DIY it–using yogurt or pudding cups, egg cartons, etc. Truth is, you don’t NEED a lot of fancy seed-starting containers to grow your seedlings, but they can make your life a whole lot easier.
Basically, any container that can hold up to two inches of soil will do the trick. You don’t want to use a container that will be damaged by water (such as an egg carton), as you will be watering the seeds fairly regularly. That is why plastic containers serve as the best option for starting seeds, as they aren’t damaged by water.
You also want containers that have holes in the bottom. This will ensure that the plants’ roots will have space to grow and that the water that seeps through the soil has somewhere to escape through. The last thing you want is for your plants to rot because the roots have been sitting in stagnant water for too long. Any container you use for your seed-starting will NEED those holes in the base.
Here are a few of your seed-starting container options:
- Peat Pots – For those who want to go all-natural, peat pots are exactly what they sound like: pots made out of peat. You plant the seeds in the pots, and, once the seeds are grown into seedlings, you plant the entire pot into the ground. The peat will help to protect the seedlings from damping off.
- Flats – These are the classic seed-starting containers, and the ideal choice for those who are trying to get their basic garden off the ground. A “flat” is basically a large, rectangle-shaped container with lots of space for the soil and seeds. You may find that some of the seedlings’ root systems become intertwined, as there is no divider to separate the plants. Still, flats are the easiest for starting a lot of seeds.
- Cell Pack – This is exactly like a flat, but the container comes with individual compartments. You fill the cell pack with soil, place the seeds in each compartment, and when the time comes to remove the seedling, it comes out in a neat little cube. They’re nice and cheap, not to mention available EVERYWHERE.
- Soil Block – A soil block is exactly what it sounds like: a block of soil for you to start your seedlings. The blocks are usually compressed into cubes, and you just plant your seeds directly into those cubes. They tend to dry out more quickly than the other options, but they can be planted right into the soil of your garden without needing to remove the plant from a container.
- Individual Containers – Instead of using a huge tray (flat or cell pack), you can always go the route of using individual containers and flower pots for starting your seeds. Paper pots, peat pots, soil blocks, and plastic pots are all options for those who want total control over the environment in which their seedlings grow.
- DIY Containers – Plastic egg cartons make an awesome DIY cell pack, but you can use plastic yogurt or pudding cups, paper cups, and even old milk cartons as containers for your seedlings. All you’ll need to do is cut holes in the bottom to ensure the water has a way to drain out!
In addition to your seed starting containers, you’re going to need some kind of lid to place over the top of the container. This will keep the moisture trapped within the container, encouraging germination. A tray will help to catch water runoff, so you should definitely place one beneath the container–especially if you are growing indoor.
An excerpt from “Essential Seed Starting Equipment“, courtesy of Epic Gardening.