You can start seeds in pots and have them ready for transplanting by the last spring frost. You can also get a head start on the growing season by planting seeds in decorative containers for your patio or deck. Seeds should be started 4 to 12 weeks before the date of the last predicted frost in your area.
Decide what kind of plants you want--ornamentals or food plants--and whether you will leave them in the container or transplant them to the garden. Consider the plant size and where they will be planted. Think about foliage color, flower color and bloom time of ornamental plants. Choose vegetables and fruits you like to eat, and consider the length of time until they are ready to harvest.
Buy seeds from a reliable source, either locally or online. See Resources for some online suppliers of seeds. Check the date of packaging on the seed packet. Seeds should not be more than 1 year old.
Use cell packs or small pots for plants that will be transplanted later or decorative containers for plants that will remain in the pots. Use a soil scoop to fill the cell packs, pots or containers with seed starting media or a potting soil that has fine texture, with uniform soil particles.
Plant 2 to 3 seeds per cell or pot at the depth recommend on the seed package. Follow the directions for the spacing of plants in large containers that can hold more than one plant.
Some seeds need light to germinate and should be left uncovered, while other seeds are covered lightly. Plant according to the directions on the seed package.
Water thoroughly so the soil is moist but not soggy. Place the pots in a brightly lighted area, but not in the direct sun.