How to Start Vegetables From Seeds


With a little preparation and planning, anyone can start vegetables from seeds. The reasons to start from seed are that you can grow a wider variety of vegetables and you have control over the final product.

Step 1

Choose the containers. Use containers that have wide mouths and can be handled easily such as bowls, milk cartons, pots, planter boxes or cans. Clean out the containers with a mixture of nine parts water to one part bleach. This allows the container to be clean enough without causing damage to the soil or plants.

Step 2

Read the directions on the back of the seed packets. This will tell you everything from how deep to plant to spacing. It will also tell you when to plant and how long it will take to get adult plants producing vegetables.

Step 3

Fill the containers with potting soil to an inch below the lip. This gives you enough room for the water and expansion of the soil as the roots grow. Plant one variety of seed per container to avoid confusion.

Step 4

Label the containers so you know which vegetables are in which container. Mark each with the name, date of planting and when you expect to harvest. Mark a calendar with the planting date and harvesting date for garden planning.

Step 5

Poke a hole in the soil where your seed will be placed. Place the seed and cover it with soil according the directions on the seed packet. Plant multiple seeds in larger containers remembering to space seeds according to the packet instructions. Also remember that you will be thinning out plants as they grow.

Step 6

Water your seeds using a watering can with a controlled flow; this is a slotted or evenly spaced holed end of the spout that will allow water to be dispersed evenly. Water to moisten the soil, but not to the point of saturation. You don't want standing water or dark muddy soil.

Step 7

Keep the containers in an area where the temperature range can be maintained around 70 degrees. Use heat mats under the containers if needed to maintain the proper temperature. This will help the seeds start their root systems.

Step 8

Cover your containers with clear plastic wrap, or place them into clear plastic bags. The plastic cover will help keep a constant moisture level for the seeds to germinate. Remove the plastic cover when the seeds have sprouted. Put new sprouts in direct light; use a south facing window to catch the most sun or use a grow light hung about one foot above the plants.

Step 9

Move the sprouts into a permanent garden. Remove the plants from the containers, cutting away the containers with scissors if possible. Dig a hole at the permanent location deep enough for both the plant and the soil it is already in to go. Fill in soil around the plant and lightly tamp down to keep the sprout secure. Plan on moving certain vegetables first such as lettuce or broccoli which can tolerate late or early frost as long as they are covered. Keep tomatoes, peppers, peas and beans inside until the outside temperature matches the temperature inside the house.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting containers
  • Seeds
  • Watering can
  • Hand shovel
  • Plastic covering
  • Scissors


  • Vegetable Garden Guru
  • Oh My Garden
  • Fine Gardening

Who Can Help

  • You Grow Girl
Keywords: starting vegetable seeds, seed starting, growing vegetables from seed

About this Author

William A. Swan is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management.