Seeds Starting FAQs: How to start seeds?
If you’re just starting the gardening journey, surely you want to plant a few seeds and see the progress day by day. That has a different kind of satisfaction. But planting seeds for the first time can bring up a lot of questions as to how one can go about it. Which is why we are going to answer some frequently asked questions about starting seeds.
- When is the best time to start seeds?
In India, the general time to plant seeds varies on when you want to see blooms or harvest the plant. To get a harvest in late December or January, September would be a good average time to plant seeds.
And to see blooms in February, October will be a good time to plant.
Seeds don’t like extreme heat or extreme cold. To generalise, seeds of tropical plants will not survive in the cold.
- What soil is the best to start seeds?
Seeds that are very small and delicate, need a lot of energy to push out of the soil layer. If this layer of soil is too thick or too hard, they’ll die under the surface itself. Which is why a good airy, draining soil is best for seeds. We need draining soil because seeds like water but don’t like drowning in it. Cocopeat is a good addition to the soil as it holds enough moisture, but also provides drainage to normal garden soil. Rocks may not be a good idea for drainage. Because for some seeds, like carrots, any obstacles in the way can distort the crop.
- How deep to plant the seed?
Like mentioned before, small seeds can’t have a very thick layer on top of them. So, for small seeds, they should not be more than half an inch or an inch deep into the soil. For larger seeds like beans can be planted a little deeper. The general rule being, bigger seeds can be sown around ¾ of a pointer finger-sized hole in the soil.
- When is the best time to transplant a seedling?
If you’ve started many seeds in a small pot, you’ll have to transplant the healthy ones into their own individual bigger pots, so that they can grow properly. The best time to do so is when the plant is around 5 inches tall. The average time is around a month. Discard the leggy, weak ones as these have a lower survival rate. The leaves should look healthy and shapely.
- How much light and water does a seed need?
Seeds need a lot of light to grow out of their shell. But give them too much scorching direct sunlight, and they may not survive.
Keep them in bright filtered light until the seedling is at least 2 or 3 inches tall and can sustain direct sunlight. And with water, seeds need a lot of moisture to grow out.
But a lot of moisture does not mean that they like being in a pool of water. Keep the soil consistently moist, wait till just the surface is looking dry and then water. Letting the soil dry out too much can also kill the seed. So, depending upon the weather and climate you live in, you may have to monitor the soil and then make up your own schedule to keep the soil moist. After the seeds have sprouted out and the seedlings are growing to a few inches tall, you can lay back of the watering slightly!
- How long does it take for a seed to germinate?
Depending upon the conditions the seed is being planted, everything can affect the germination time. The warmth, the humidity, the light, everything contributes to the success or failure of seed germination. on an average, a seed can take up to 2 weeks to germinate. This will change of course from seed to seed, but 2 weeks is a generalised number.
- What to do if the seeds are dying?
this is a very question that has a very broad spectrum of answers. the first thing would be to try to identify why the seed is not germinating or the seedling is dying. the soil could be drying out too much, the weather could be at extremes, something the seedlings can handle, the humidity is too less. it could be a number of reasons. If you think you’ve guessed what the problem is, the only way to truly save the seedling is to give it all your love and attention and try to meet the ideal seed germination scenarios. Good moisture in soil, perfect amount of bright indirect light and light airy soil is what we’re trying to give the seedling.
- What to do if the seedling is leggy?
Seedlings tend to stretch out and grow more stem and leaves and appear to be scanty and leggy. This usually happens because there isn’t enough light. they try to grow out in search of light, in turn, making them leggy. the most obvious solution to this is, give them more light. you can also try to re-pot these leggy plants and plant them into the soil to the point where the last set of leaves has appeared (the point where it stopped being stem heavy). after doing so, make sure you give them more light than before. this can be considered as “ fresh start” for the leggy seedling!
Until next time,
Have a lovely day and Happy Planting!!