Although most gardening centers provide transplants that are ready to put into the soil, a satisfying method of plant growing is propagating by seeds. Planting seeds gives the gardener a greater choice in plant variety. Propagating by seeds is also cheaper than buying transplants. Starting seeds is a basic gardening skill and is easy to learn.
Purchasing fresh seed that is pure is one of the most important steps to growing seeds. Check the seed packaging to ensure its freshness. Ohio State University says that 65 to 80 percent of fresh seeds will germinate, so buy enough to fill your gardening space adequately.
Seeds are best started indoors since the environment is easier to control, and there is little chance of frost killing off new seeds. Wood flats, plastic or fiber trays or clay pots are containers suitable for seed propagation. The pots are filled with a soil solution such as vermiculite or perlite that is free of disease. Plant seeds according to when they are normally planted outdoors.
Sowing the Seeds and Transplanting
Seeds are sown to the depth required for the specific plant variety into a pot three-quarters full of potting soil. The soil is leveled and gently packed and then filled to the top with vermiculite and watered so that the material is moist. Seeds are covered to a soil depth only twice their size in diameter, says Purdue University. A plastic bag is placed over the tray and the tray is set in an area with partial sunlight and warmth. A temperature range between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best for germination. The seed will protrude from the soil after a few days, depending on the variety. The plastic bag is removed, and the seedling is allowed to grow to a few inches in height, before it is transplanted outside.
Do not transplant until a set of two, true leaves are formed on the plant. Plants are best planted outdoors once the last chance of frost has passed. Transplanting the plants into a small pot is recommended before planting it in the ground. This allows you to harden the plant by placing it outside for slightly longer periods throughout the day, over a week-long period, until the plant is used to the outside weather.
Starting seeds outdoors
It is also possible to sow seeds outdoors in the garden. Check the seed packaging for instructions on when best to plant outdoors, how deep to seed, and how far apart to space the rows. It is also essential that the soil outdoors is well draining, is full of organic material from compost or manure, and has the correct pH level as indicated by a pH test.