8 biggest Seed Starting Mistakes to Avoid
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8 biggest Seed Starting Mistakes to Avoid, Over or under-watering, enough light, and not addressing a variety-specific needs will result in poor germination.
If you are a beginner gardener or someone with a little more experience and want to improve your germination rate then these are the top Seed Starting Mistakes to Avoid. Avoiding these mistakes will save you time, money, and gardening headaches.
Don't use Garden soil to Start your seeds
Garden soil is not a good substitute for seed starting mix because it is very dense. Garden soil might also contain fungi, insects, and other microorganisms that might attack and destroy your seeds or seedlings.
Use seed starting mix instead, seed starting mix is, sterile, fluffy, retains moisture, and has good drainage. You can make yours, read my post on how to make your own seed starting mix for pennies. If you are not able to make yours, you can buy it at your local garden center.
Using nonviable or old seeds
Buy your seeds from a reputable organization, using seeds that are old reduces the
probability of the seeds germinating. some seeds companies have seeds that have been packaged and store for a few years. if you harvest your own seed from the garden, make sure the plants are mature before you harvest and save the seeds. if you harvest plants that are not mature, the seeds will probably not germinate.
Planting seeds too deep
Most seeds will not do well if you plant them too deep. some seeds like shallow planting dept. if you plant seeds too deep some seeds will not germinate while others might germinate and spend all their energy to get out of the soil or seed starting mix. follow seed package instructions. the general rule of thumb is to plant the seeds 2 times deep the width of the seed.
most plants require warmer temperatures of 70 degrees and above. seeds like tomato and pepper require a temperature of above 70 to germinate and grow if the room temperature is not high enough then the seeds will not germinate. if the temperature is too high, it might burn the plants. if you are starting your seeds late winter and early spring, you might have to put the seeds in a worm area or use a plant heat mat. Plant heat mats will maintain the temperature of the seed starting container to be above 70. there are some heat mats that allow you to set your desired temperature.
Plants need humidity to help them germinate, that is why it is recommended that you cover your seed tray or container. a greenhouse doom tray will provide enough humidity to help seeds germinate. if you have your seed starting container already, you can achieve humidity by covering your seed tray or seed container with clear plastic.
The clear plastic will maintain the humidity while letting enough light in for the seedlings. Many seed starters cover the container to keep moist until seeds germinate.
Improper watering (too much water or too little water)
All seeds require water to germinate and grow. as it always said too much of a thing is not good. You need to keep the growing soil (seed starting mix) damp but not too wet. Too much water will drown the plants and too little water will dry out the soil and kill the plant.
I recommend watering your plants once a day and only water it twice a day if it is too hot. you want to make sure the roots are able to get the nutrients it needs without being drowned by water. use coco coil and peat moss to start your seeds because they hold enough water and moisture and let the rest drain out.
Not enough light
After seeds germinate, you need to make sure the seedlings are getting enough sunlight to help them grow, if there is not enough light the seedlings will become leggy, weak, and die.
When the seeds germinate and have at least two leaves, move the seedlings to where there is sunlight. some window sills might provide enough sunlight. if you don't have a good spot with sunlight you can add a grow light to provide the seedlings with enough light. An led grow light is better because it does not generate a lot of heat and it uses less electricity.
Don't use unsterilized, dirty or old containers
If you use your seed starting tray last year to start your seeds or you got some old seed starting containers from your garden center, don't use the containers without sterilizing it. those containers might have fungia or other bacteria or viruses that might affect your seeds or seedlings.
Us a solution of 10 part water and 1 part bleach to sanitize the containers, you can also use hydrogen peroxide solution to eliminate any virus, insect, fungi from the container.
here is how you do it.
Scrub the trays and containers with warm, soapy water
Spray the trays and containers with a generous spray of hydrogen peroxide, then let everything sit for about 30 minutes before using it.
Not Hardening your seedlings
Before transplanting your seedlings into the garden, harden your seedlings. hardening your seedlings is the process of getting your seedlings acclimated to the outdoor temperature. you want to bring your plants outside a couple of hours a day for a couple of weeks. Check out my post on hardening your plants for details