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Seeds: Growing Annuals from Seed

Mar 12, 2021

Growing vegetables, flowers, and ornamental annuals from seed is not difficult, particularly with the advancements in products available today. Satisfying? You bet! Get started by planting indoors during the early spring and watch your little sprouts take root and grow!

 

Materials Needed

Seeds: Be sure to read seed packages carefully as plants will vary in length of germination time. Flowers such as impatiens need a 6-10 week germination period, while some marigolds may be ready to plant out in 5 weeks. Calculate backwards from date of typical last frost (In the capital district we the average last frost happens in mid-May) and sow seeds accordingly. Also, note whether seeds need to be covered with planting medium or sit on top of medium. This will greatly affect your success.

Seed Starting Tray: Any tray with sides will do. You need not worry much about drainage at this point as the seeds want to stay moist. Commercial seed starting products include many different seed tray kits including some made to fit your windowsill. Make sure your tray has a clear top or will accommodate plastic wrap to cover.

Seed Starting Medium: Either buy pre-mixed medium in a bag or mix your own. To mix your own you will need equal parts of vermiculite, peat moss, and perlite. If you do mix your own, you will need a general purpose liquid fertilizer to use each time seeds are watered. Pre-mixed medium includes added nutrients. If you choose to use Jiffy pellets, there is no need to buy medium as the pellet expands with water and contains soil.

Misting bottle: Yes, there are a lot of ways to water, but we find this prevents drowning and is really an easy way to provide water for your seeds and seedlings.

Light: A sunny south window is great. If you need to add more light to your space, grow bulbs can also help.

 

Planting Methods

Method 1
For Seeds Needing Soil Cover
Mix your seed starting medium first if not using pre-mixed medium
Fill tray with medium except for the top 1/4″ layer and moisten it
Tamp down surface to get it as level as you can
Sow seeds by placing them in rows or sprinkle thinly on top surface. Be careful not to sow too closely or seedlings will be too difficult to handle easily when transplanting.
Cover seeds with top 1/4″ layer of soil
Moisten top layer with misting bottle
Cover with plastic

 

Method 2
For Seeds Needing No Soil Cover
Mix your seed starting medium first if not using pre-mixed medium
Fill tray with medium and moisten it
Tamp down surface to get it as level as you can
Sow seeds by placing them in rows or sprinkle thinly on top surface. Be careful not to sow too closely or seedlings will be too difficult to handle easily when transplanting.
Cover with plastic

 

Method 3
When Using Jiffy pellets
Place pellets on tray
Moisten pellets (they will expand)
Sow seeds by placing 2 or 3 in a pellet, either on top of soil surface or poke a hole with a pencil tip and place seed in and cover with soil, depending on seed requirements
Cover with plastic

Growing Tips

After you have sown seeds, place tray in the sunniest location you have and remember to rotate. A south facing window is best. Grow lights can be used as well.

Mist with water as needed.

When seedlings almost reach the plastic cover, remove cover

After last frost, move the tray to a shady spot outdoors for a week before transplanting into the garden.