Seed Starting Supply List

So you want to start some (or all) of your own seeds this spring.  What supplies are actually necessary and what might make your life easier? 

 

Necessary Supplies:

  • Seeds– What kind of seeds will you be starting?  Select varieties that will perform well in your growing region.  If you don’t know if something will grow in your area, check with local gardening groups, university extension services and local gardening supply stores.  Make sure to start seeds at the appropriate time–some seeds will grow more quickly or slowly than others.  Use the seed packet’s recommendation or find a local resource to aid in timing.

  

  • Growing Media- Your seeds will need somewhere to germinate and grow.  This is where growing media comes into play.  Some people prefer to make their own seed starting growing media, while others prefer to purchase a pre-made version like Black Gold Seedling Mix.  Either way is fine but for simplicity’s sake, I prefer to purchase my media pre-made.


  • Containers- You will need some sort of way to contain your growing media.  This could be 2.5 inch nursery pots  (or larger), recycled kitchen containers, eggshells, etc.  The main thing to consider when looking for containers is: does the container have drainage holes (or can I make holes in the container) and are all of my containers relatively the same size?  Drainage holes are important so that excess water may run out of the container and not flood the seedling.  The inability for water to drain out of the containers may cause seedlings to dampen off (die).  It is advantageous to have similar sized containers because when the same growing media is used, they will dry out and require water at the same time.


  • Trays- Since your containers need to have holes in them, you will want some sort of tray underneath the containers to catch the water that drains out.  I prefer to use 1020 trays from Sunpack because they fit perfectly on my seed starting racks and are super durable but other options are available.


  • Domes- Mini Greenhouse domes fit perfectly over a 1020 tray and their main job is to raise the humidity level over the seedling trays.  Once seeds have germinated and have a true set of leaves, the dome may be removed.


  • Labels- Make sure to label your containers! Include the type of seed you planted and the variety name on one side of the label.  On the other side, write down the date that you planted the seed.  It can be very tempting to skip this step. Do not skip this step–especially if you are growing different varieties of the same plant. In most cases, the varieties will be impossible to distinguish until they are fruiting.


  • Misting Spray Bottle or Gentle Watering Can: Tender seedlings will need to be watered gently. Grab a misting spray bottle or a watering can that has a shower spout with many holes (instead of a few large holes).  



  • Fertilizer- After about a month of growth, your young seedlings will require a light dose of fertilizer.  Choose a fertilizer that is meant for the ‘grow’ phase of the plant’s life cycle or has a higher level of nitrogen in it.  Do not use more fertilizer than the label suggests.  Using too much fertilizer on any plant will cause it to die but seedlings are especially vulnerable to over fertilization.  

 

  • Mycorrhizae- Mycorrhizae (aka Beneficial Microbes) are an integral part of growing healthy seedlings.  Beneficial microbes make associations with plant roots to improve nutrient uptake, resist environmental stress and improve overall plant health.  Mix the mycorrhizae into your seed starting mix or purchase a product that is water soluble and water it in.

Other helpful equipment:

  • Garden Gloves: If you don’t want dirty hands or soil under your fingernails, garden gloves might be moved into the ‘Necessary Supplies’ list.  


  • Heat Mat: Seedling heat mats can help speed up the process of germination especially for heat loving crops like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  If you are starting seeds in the basement or garage, a heat mat may be necessary because the ambient temperature will be too cool for the seed to germinate.


  • Dibber or Other Seeding Tool: A dibber is a tool used to make holes in the soil surface for seeds. They usually have a ruler on them with markings to help you know how deep your seed will go when dropped into the hole.


  • Tweezers: Some seeds are very small and difficult to grab between your fingers.  A pair of tweezers may be helpful in grabbing these tiny seeds.


  • Oscillating Fan: Once your seedlings have grown their first true leaves, having an oscillating fan blow a gentle breeze on the seedlings will help them grow more roots and sturdier stems.  This will reduce the shock they receive when being moved outside.

 

Do you use something else that’s not on this list? Leave your must have equipment in the comments!

 

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