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seed starting tips

I’m beyond giddy.  This is my very favorite time of year. Between packets I had, packets I picked up, and a special care package from my dad, I have most of the seeds that I need (thought I still need to place a last minute order from Johnny’s).


Last week, I started…
Marketmore and Sweet Marketmore cucumbers
California Wonder 300 and Orange Sun peppers
Russian Tarragon
Tomatoes: Mountain Magic Vine Hybrid, Ananas Noir (won from Down to Earth Digs), Best Boy, Supersweet 100 Cherry Hybrid, Amish Paste Heirloom, Crimson Cusion Beefsteak Heirloom, Burpee Big Boy, and Brandywine Red.
Red Velvet Celosia
Nasturtium: Jewel Mix and Empress of India
Gigante Verde Tomatillos

I’m particularly excited about tomatillos.  I’ve never grown them before and I love them as a snack if they are fresh from a garden (not the ones in the grocery store – ew).

We have a grow light shelf similar to this one, only deeper and with four shelves (and we bought ours on Craigslist a few years ago because the price is pretty steep).  I can’t even share a full picture of it because it is in my dark dungeon of a basement. I used seed trays from Gardener’s supply, containers from purchased annuals last year, and I even used a cardboard egg carton for the tarragon.


If you live in New England, it is time to start those seeds if you haven’t yet.  Here are a few key tips for success.

  1. DIRT IS KEY.  I can’t say it enough.  I’ve tried planting seeds in crap dirt like regular old Miracle Grow potting soil and it was a disaster.  You can’t use regular potting soil because it is too heavy.  You can’t use straight peet because it doesn’t have the nutrition to support your growing babies.  You absolutely need seed starting mix OR you can make your own with perlite, peat, and really great dirt like Coast of Maine.  Keep in mind, however, that peat is not considered environmentally friendly. This year, I’m testing out soil that is 50% organic potting soil and 50% Organic Mechanics Seed Starting Blend.  Organic Mechanics is peat-free, environmentally friendly, organic, and made of things like coconut fiber, worm castings, rice hulls, forest materials, and turkey litter – yum!
  2. You need some kind of light.  If you don’t have grow lights, you’ll need a very bright window and you’ll need to rotate the seedlings because they’ll grow towards the light.
  3. If you are using grow lights, keep the light as close to the seedlings as possible.  If it is too high above, you’ll end up with spindly, weak stems.
  4. A light fan is very useful to keep mildew away and to make your seedling stems stronger.
  5. Keep the dirt moist but don’t overwater.  A system that allows water to soak up from the bottom is ideal.

Good luck and share a link below if you have photos of your own seed starting.  Feel free to share your favorite seed starting tip as well.

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  1. This is inspiring me! We have a whole big yard for the first time ever, and I have no idea where to begin! Fortunately, the people we bought the house from planted beautiful gardens around the house, but I’d love to try an easy veggie. Is it too late?

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