There is much pleasure and reward to be enjoyed by growing plants from seeds. After the initial investment of a few gardening supplies, it is much less expensive to start crops from seed rather than to buy small plants every year. Gardeners also take pride in being able to nurture a crop from seed to harvest.
Materials and Supplies
A tabletop greenhouse is an inexpensive item that makes starting seeds indoors easiest. For indoor use, purchase a bottom that has no holes and does not drain. The top of the greenhouse is raised, clear plastic lid. Gardeners can choose from seedling pots, small plant pots, or even a removable tray to hold soil and start seeds in.
Small yogurt tubs with a hole cut in the bottom work well as seed starting cups. If not using a tabletop greenhouse, small plant pots or yogurt tubs can be placed on trays or plates in a window. Spread a little plastic wrap over the tops after planting the seeds to keep the soil warm.
A set of hand-held gardening tools is essential for scooping potting soil into seed starting trays, and later for transplanting seedlings without damaging them.
It may seem silly to mention, but anytime using soils and fertilizers, wear gardening gloves and wash hands thoroughly when finished. This protects hands from natural products and chemicals that are good for plants but should not be ingested directly by people.
Purchase high quality seeds. Seeds from vegetables bought at the grocery store may not fruit (sometimes they are hybrid). Inexpensive or old seeds may never germinate. Purchase fresh seeds from a reputable vendor whose stock moves; do not purchase old seeds gathering dust on the shelf. Keep seeds dry until ready to use.
During the first growing season, you may choose to collect seeds from your bounty and air-dry them in a window. Deposit completely dry seeds in a sealed bag and keep them in your freezer. At the beginning of the next growing season, use these seeds to start plants.
There are many premixed potting soils available such as Miracle-Gro. The different varieties of potting soils are enriched with plant foods for various crops, such as vegetable gardens, rose gardens, etc. Many of these mixes will feed plants for several months, after which time fertilizer or plant food can be applied. Some mixes claim to be organic.
Premixed potting mixes are the easiest way for the novice gardener to ensure that her seeds will get the right amount of food to sprout and grow.
The other option is to buy sterilized potting soil and plant food. While this is a less expensive option, it requires understanding careful measuring of the plant food to the amount of soil, and different crops have different needs. Too little food and the seedlings will not thrive, too much and the roots could get burnt.
Advanced gardeners make their own plant food such as the recipes in the references.