Seed Starting Basics

Seed Starter Basics

Starting seeds is a great way to get a head start with Spring gardening.  I’ve actually been putting this off because our temperatures and weather have been so unpredictable.

I think we’re pretty safe at the moment and since I purchased seeds back in December it’s past time to get started because our last freeze date is scheduled for March 31.

To find the last freeze date for your planting zone check the Farmer’s Almanac and click weather.   This link can also be found in our Subscriber’s library.  To gain access sign up for our newsletter here.

There are so many ways to start seeds and the set ups are endless.  If you have a greenhouse, I have to say I’m a bit jealous because that would be the ideal environment for establishing seeds prior to Spring.

Beginning with our Seed Starter Boxes

Seed Starter Boxes

This year I’ll be using the seed starter boxes, they keep the mess outdoors which is grand when you live Tiny.  These boxes allow me to cover during the germination process and offer natural sunlight when temperatures surprise us.

I originally used these for fall planting and they worked great, it was easy to cover my lettuce when temperatures dropped by placing the lid on top.

But fall is now in the past and it’s time to embrace yet a new season of planting.

Each box is filled with soil, natural debris and mulch which work as insulation.  Once these starters are ready to transplant, I can also use these boxes for direct planting because they’re already prepped.

This is one of our dual-purpose products and simple tips that allow me to glide through the gardening season.

Benefits of Starting your Own Seeds

Benefits of Starting Seeds

By starting your own seeds, you can actually decrease startup expenses because buying individual plants can add up fast, especially if you have a big garden.

You also have the opportunity to start specialty plants that are often overlooked at traditional nurseries.  Most nurseries purchase plants off the same truck so if you want something unique it’s important to find a nursery that starts their own inventory on sight.

Or just buy seeds and do it yourself because it’s actually a pretty relaxing activity and a good way to spend an afternoon. If you still haven’t purchased seeds, read new garden seeds here. 

Starting seeds at home is just really an affordable way to begin a garden.

When To Start Seeds

When to Start Seeds

For annuals begin seeds four to six weeks prior to Spring.  Like I mentioned earlier I’m off to a slow start this year and that’s because of our weather.

Annuals will germinate fast, most between 6- 10 days and within two weeks don’t be surprised how fast they begin producing new growth.

Perennials are slower to germinate and will take that full 10 days sometimes longer depending on the variety of seed.  These plants are hardier and fun to incorporate because once established you can enjoy them every year.

Both annuals and perennials can be sowed no more than 12 weeks before the last freeze.

What to use for Starting Seeds

What to use for Starting Seeds?

In the past I’ve used a variety of materials and normally it all comes down to what I have available. This year I decided to keep things really simple and use peat pods with recycled OUI glass jars.  I just love that yogurt!

I’ve also incorporated some liners that will help keep the pods organized and stay moist.

If you want a few more ideas I’ve added some things from the past, pick and choose or get traditional seed starting trays online or in store.

If you decide to reuse materials from previous seasons make sure to wash them first in hot soapy water to remove any bacteria. I recommend using natural cleaners because they won’t be harmful to your health.

What kind of Soil should you use?

Well, as I mentioned I’m using peat pods this year, mainly yes because it’s simple.  Our ground is incredibly wet and I just didn’t want to buy soil when we already have an abundance.

If you need to purchase soil look for a high quality, organic seed starter soil.  These mixes will contain quality ingredients necessary to help germinate seeds fast.

Seed Starter Basics

If you’re wondering where is the best place to store these starters that’s a great question. Especially if you don’t have a greenhouse or seed starter boxes.

I suggest choosing an area near a window so they can get natural light.

Some folks make stands that incorporate lighting, we did this when we grew luffa on our farm.  It was awesome but my large farming days are over so I like to keep things simple now days.

The key is to find a place in your home where they won’t get disturbed from pets or small children and yet still receive a natural light source.

Focusing on the Positive like these new plants are as they sprout for spring.

Now if you want to just skip starting seeds indoors all together then direct seed would be your next game plan.  Read my Direct Seed tips here, I’ll warn you this is my favorite way to plant because it’s such a breeze.

Seed Starting is just a fun activity no matter how you begin and a reminder that good things are beginning to grow.


Learn the basics of sowing seeds indoors, from choosing containers, when to start seeds and where to store during germination. #SeedStarterbasics, #GardenTips


  1. I’m late starting seeds. Had a little too much on my mind for the last couple of months, but I’m back on my game now.

    I’ll be glad when the weather is a little more reliable. This up and down business plays havoc on my schedule.

    1. Carole says:

      Well glad to hear things are getting better it’s hard. I still miss Dixie and trying to decide if we’re ready for another dog is also difficult. I agree with you on this weather, it’s like it ha a split personality. I think we get more rain here than your area so you can imagine what a mess I’m surrounded by. The grass is even starting to grow but there’s no way I can get a mower out to cut, it would just cake with mud.

  2. Patti says:

    Our last spring frost date is May 10th. I usually start planting on Mother’s Day. I feel like it used to be the end of May but I’ve still planted in mid-May. Just couldn’t wait any longer. Our shorter growing period is a good reason to start seeds inside. So this year I have some plans and I even want to create a holding area/cold frame similar to your seed starter box. We’ll see if it all gets done. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Carole says:

      My word May 10th, I couldn’t handle that. I would need a greenhouse if I lived further north or a retreat in general. I have a hard time with cold temperatures and finding I just cope better in the warmth. I love my seed starter boxes and know you will too. Sounds like you have some neat plans and looking forward to seeing the end result.

  3. Christine says:

    Great tips, Carole!! This year I’ve staggered my seedlings starting with my cutting herbs first. I see our last frost is at the end of April which will work fine because I’ll be transplanting these seedlings to indoor pots. Veggies come next and I’m super excited because I’m trying a couple they I’ve not grown before!! Happy planting!! (P.s we have more snow coming this weekend!!)

    1. Carole says:

      Snow? Unreal…. Stagger planting is smart and normally I would just choose to direct seed but I want to get quail back here in April so I’m trying to get a head start so I don’t get overwhelmed. Suppose to be 70 today which is a huge jump from the 20’s we had back on Sunday and Monday. Not to sure about this weather and after reading the almanac it just looks like a wet summer too. Have a great weekend and stay warm.

  4. laura says:

    hi carole, thanks for the tips! With new puppy I might need to play my seedlings on top of a ladder in front of a window! laura

    1. Carole says:

      Your puppy is the cutest thing ever, I love the photos you share just warms my heart. Also love how you changed up your blog too. We’re still in a holding pattern about getting another dog, it’s been months since Dixie passing and just not sure now is the time. I guess I’m just waiting for opportunity to surface.

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