First, you must select your containers. They may be plastic, cardboard, or pressed peat with a depth of 2-3 inches. If you choose the pressed peat, you need to sterilize with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Good drainage holes are essential.
Next, you need to fill with a light-textured, seed-starting soil that is sterilized, loose and airy. We recommend the Art Knapp seed starter or Pro Mix premium seed starting mix.
Fill your containers with pre-moistened soil mix and tamp it lightly before seeding.
Sow seeds thinly. A commercial “seeder” may make your job easier and give you more control.
Generally we cover the seeds to a depth of 3x the seeds thickness. Some seeds need to be covered with glass or a clear plastic dome to allow light in to stimulate germination, and to control humidity, while other seeds need dark germination. Check your seed packet for hints and specific info. If dark is recommended, put wet newspaper lightly on the soil surface just till the seeds germinate, then remove.
Keep your temperature as even as possible around 21-23℃.
It’s very important to keep the soil evenly moist. Use a spray bottle with tepid water and avoid sopping wet soil. Clear plastic domes aid in maintaining humidity without excessive watering.
Next, you have to provide a light source. 14-16 hours under a full spectrum grow light or sunlight works well, but your seedlings will also need a rest period of darkness, as in nature, so never leave the light on all night. If you have a light bar, place it about 2 inches above your seeds and raise it as they grow (a chain works well).
Transplant your seedlings to individual pots when they have a good root system established. Start with a small pot, hold the plant by a leaf so you don’t damage the delicate stem, and reduce the temperature a little.
It’s really important to provide good air movement to discourage the “damping off” fungus and to help your plants develop stronger stems. You can provide this by directing a gentle fan on your seed trays once the domes are off. Watering with camomile tea or sprinkling cinnamon on your soil also deters fungal growth.
When your seedlings develop two sets of true leaves (not counting the seed leaves – the first small set of leaves), then it’s time to fertilize them. Feed the seedlings with diluted fish fertilizer (follow the package directions) or use 10-52-10 plant starter. Always make your solution with room temperature water.
When your small pots or trays are quite full of roots, transplant to the next size pot to encourage a strong root system before moving them to the garden site.
Place your plants outside in the day in a sheltered, shady spot and bring them inside each night. Gradually move them to a sunny spot over the period of a week. Monitor the weather to prepare for adverse conditions, and bring plants in if a frost warning is in effect.