6 Tips for Easy Seed Sowing

Recycled 4" pots, popsicle stick plant markers, a chopstick, a spoon, and an old ice cream lid for a saucer. Retro shot glass for seed soaking.

Seed sowing is one of those tasks, like ironing, that you sometimes put off because it’s such a hassle to get everything ready. All the setting up of the ironing board, the bag of soil. Unlike ironing, seed sowing is also potentially messy. And finicky. These tips will give you the right tools to make it easier and neater.

1. Buy a plastic boot tray from a discount or dollar store. The one in this picture cost $2.99. These are perfect shallow trays for a seed-sowing set up. I used to use newspapers, which I would roll up and compost afterwards, but the tray is much tidier. It’s also waterproof and has sides, so soil doesn’t spill. You can pour soil right out on the tray to scoop it up more easily, like the professionals do at a potting station. I only had a small bag of soil, so I kept mine in the bag this time. Boot trays also make great plant saucers, you can group several pots on it and water them all together.

The other great thing about the boot-tray is if you need the space for something else—people invariably do their seed sowing in the kitchen—you can pick up the whole kit and kaboodle and store it somewhere until you are ready to sow your next seed batch.

2. Clear a space on the counter large enough for your boot tray, with some extra space around to set up materials. Use a good starter mix for your soil, with organic matter in it. Make sure you have bright light to work in.

3. Soak hard coated seeds for 24 hours. I was sowing sweet peas, that have a hard coat that takes them longer to germinate. I soaked them in a shot glass, changing the water a couple of times when I remembered. (Changing water helps to remove a germination inhibiting substance in the seed coat) Morning glory seeds also benefit from a soaking before seeding.

4. Have an easy-pour watering source. I use a small plastic water bottle. Easy to pour evenly and takes up little room. Use warm water, it is easier wet the soil mixes. Pour soil into pots and water, and use a plastic saucer under the pot to collect excess water.

5. Make holes in the soil for the seeds. Sweet pea seeds need about an inch deep hole. I poked 4 holes in an evenly spaced pattern in the soil mix in a 4″ pot. I use the end of a chopstick for this. Then drop the seeds into the hole.

6. Firm soil gently around the holes with your fingers. Some seeds need darkness for germination, so check your seed package to find out what your seed needs. Once germinated, put pots in brightest location you have, preferably under a florescent light fixture or a south windowsill.

Seeing those first seedling poke their heads out of the soil is a thrill you can’t miss, so make sure you start some plants from seed this year. The other thrill is telling your friends, “Yes, I grew it from seed. “

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