Overhead view of plant starts in containers
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Tips for Starting Seeds

With such a wide variety of garden seeds, it’s tough to make general rules that will work across all types. However, here are a few ideas for getting better results when sowing seeds both indoors and out:

  • Use a good potting mix, or prepare a loose seed bed with good tilth. Seeds need to push up out of the soil, and large clods or heavy soil makes that difficult.
  • In general, cover the seed with a soil depth three times the thickness of the seed – not the length or width, but thickness: three times the diameter of round seeds, only millimeters deep for very thin seeds like carrots.
  • For small seeds, avoid sowing too many seeds and help anchor them in the soil by mixing the seeds with sand before sowing.
  • Make sure the soil is adequately warm. In general, spring crops need soil at least 50 degrees F. to germinate, while summer crops need soil in the high 60s. That’s why summer crops in the Maritime Northwest are often started indoors or under cloches.
  • Seeds need higher temperature to germinate than to grow, so if possible, lower the temperature after the seedlings emerge.