I’ve started my own seeds for
three four years now and while I am FAR from mastering it, I do think I finally have a system that works for me.
Here are all the materials I use for starting seeds. FYI there’s going to be a lot of links but I am not affiliated with any of them:
- Heavy duty 1020 seed starting trays - Honestly, this might be my favorite purchase. If you’ve ever had a seed tray break in half while you are carrying it or develop a pin hole and leak water everywhere you are ready for this upgrade. I use these a lot more than just starting seeds now that I have them. They also sell a kit with inserts, pots and a humidity dome.
- A heat mat and a temperature controller - Critical for good germination of warm season plants like peppers, cucumbers/melons and tomatoes where you want the temps to be at 80-85°F. You don’t need it as much after the germination stage unless you are growing in a cold basement where the temps go down below 60°F. They come in various sizes so buy the right one if you are starting more than one tray! You can also use any place that remains a steady 80°F like the top of the fridge, oven with the light on, top of water heater, etc. NOTE: A temperature controller is a MUST or you will fry your seedlings.
- Seed starting mix - you can buy it premade or make your own. I prefer a blend of 1 part peat moss or coco coir, 1 part perlite or coarse diatomaceous earth or coarse sand and 1 part vermiculite. Next year I will also be adding worm castings as a way to add nutrients and beneficial microbes. The mix doesn’t matter so much as you knowing how often to water it.
- Fertilizer - This is something I am still figuring out and trying to simplify. What I plan on doing is adding a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote to my potting mix as well as worm castings. Since they are both slow release you may need to use a 1/3 dose of liquid fertilizer should you notice slow growth or yellowing at the true leaf stage. It’s important to know that using too much fertilizer can lead to problems that look just like not having enough fertilizer, so its always better to start at 1/4 strength and/or spread the application over several week.
- Grow light - Even with a very sunny south facing window I have found that my seedlings still get leggy. A T6 shop light will get the job done if you hang it 2" above the seedlings but if you are planning on starting seeds more than one year I would definitely get a dedicated grow light. This HLG-65 light is my go-to recommendation because it works out of the box, is a natural color, and is extremely energy efficient. If you need a larger growing area the HLG-100 covers a 3x3’ area. If you are starting tomato plants or peppers definitely go for the HLG-100, you will need the extra space.
(A how to for starting seeds will probably be added here when I start seeds for 2020)