Seedlings: Getting Started

Last week I shared with you a tidbit about the seedling project I have started this winter. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Today I wanted to share with you how I went about getting started, and what eqiupment I’ve purchased — at least for now. As I mentioned previously, I’m sorta learning as I go and it’s really unknown what twists and turns this thing will take (and whether or not I’ll really have any success)!

I started planning for my seedling project last summer, and spent a great deal of time looking for unique seeds and the best prices. It’s not necessary for you to spent as much time, or for online ordering, unless you want some unique and cool stuff…in which case, unless you have a super cool store locally to purchase seeds, online becomes a necessity. Local nurseries carry seeds, as do places like Walmart and Home Depot so they are easily accessible.

So, first and foremost, pick out what flowers or veggies you want to grow and purchase those seeds. I ordered lots of catalogs online, and things I knew I wanted but couldn’t find in the catalogs I did some internet searching for (I’ll do a post another time about a site I found that has the uniquest seeds, that come beautifully packaged, from overseas).

Then, determine the approximate date you will want to plant outdoors. Using a calendar, count back the number of days until bloom (instructions on back of seed packets, or google for this info)–this is when you will want to get your seeds started indoors. I’m planting lots of different varieties and there is a wide range of start dates, especially since some will go in the greenhouse in April, while others have to wait until after Mother’s Day for outdoor planting. A simple calendar with the calculations already done has helped keep me on track for getting the ball rolling indoors.

I did a rough calculation of how many of each variety I will want to plant outdoors. This is important as you will need to have an idea of how many seedling starter pod spaces you will need. Then I purchased these starter kits made by Burpee, and bought online from their store:

I bought both the regular (for most of the flowers) and extra large size (for veggies). I intend to do another post with my feedback on these handy kits – for now, just know I’m pleased with them.

My online cliffs notes education also informed me that there are 3 essential elements for successful seedling growth:
1) Light – 16 hrs per day
2) Water – consistent moisture, balancing too dry versus too wet, hence the reason for the starter kits that are self-watering.
3) Heat

So my setup looks like this (beware, terrible picture to follow):

I found this heat mat on for MUCH cheaper than I could find anywhere else. If I’m remembering correctly, it was about $35. It’s actually a bit too big for my current operation, but I believe <or hope> I will quickly ‘grow into it’ – pun intended!

The plant light came from Home Depot, to the tune of $50. The store carries them in stock; in the department where other industrial-type lighting is stocked. I also bought a timer to control the 16 hrs per day lighting requirement, and highly recommend you do the same if you are embarking on a similar journey. It just makes things easier.

So, here’s your ‘getting started’shopping checklist:
-calendar (these can be printed for free online)
-seedling starter kits
-heat mat
-plant light

And, your ‘getting started’ to do list:
-select seeds
-purchase supplies
-calculate starting times for each seed variety

So…that’s that!

Happy Planning!!!





  1. Marian Tomberlin says:

    This is such an outstanding post. Everything is easy to understand and follow. What a great project. How much joy you have in the coming months. Your yard and greenhouse will be filled with delicious fresh, healthy vegetables and gorgeous flowers. Thank you for the wonderful post. I look forward to watching this unfold.

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