Seed starting - whats your tried and true method? (Share your results!)


I started my C. Chinense peppers first- about 2 weeks ago. About 5 days for most in moist paper towels to get them sprouted, then 2, sometimes 3 seeds per cell. I’ll thin to 1 seedling in about a week. There are 2 rows with nothing yet, which are supposed to be Fatalii and Brown Bhutlah peppers - super hots. They are still in the paper towels and maybe just now starting to show a root. I had heard the super hots take longer to get going, but I hope they start soon or I’ll give up on them.

My other peppers (C. Annum and C. Buccatum, plus a few late arrivals of C. Chinense) went into paper towels last night, so I’ll be planted them into cells later this week or by the weekend. Tomato seeds for scions for grafting went into paper towels 2 days ago and I already see some root “tails” poking out, so it will be a busy week. I think I’ll start the rootstocks in towels tomorrow if I can find the time.


I thought I would get my onions started, which I have never done before indoors. We usually buy sets, but those never bulb up properly into the larger cooking type onions. So, I’m trying them from seed this time.

I determined that I need “long day” varieties because of my location, so I bought some Walla Walla and Spanish Sweet Utah Jumbo seeds the other day. I have a small planter with 36 cells, so I planted 5-8 seeds in each pod. There’s 18 pods of each variety, so we should get about 80-140 sprouts of each variety, depending on the germination rate.

I used my Jiffy starting mix as mentioned above- peat, vermiculite, lime and some coir, pre-wetted in a bowl and then put in the cells. After that the seeds went on top and a thin layer of mix added on top of the seeds.

I put them on a heating pad on a table in the hall, and will wait to see what happens.


I started some Patterson onions on Feb. 3. The first seeds came up after only four or five days, but their are still a few stragglers sprouting after nearly four weeks!




Yeah from what I read, it can take 7-10 days for germination, but I imagine that is at room temp. Is yours on a heating pad? I have mine on a heating pad and a clear dome on top so I might get some sprouts sooner.


I used a heating pad until about 75% were sprouted, after which I moved them to cool area under lights.


I always have algae, too. Even if I let them dry out completely between waterings.


I soak my sets for 24- 48 hours before I plant them out.


Me too, I bring my citrus in the house for the winter and I used to have sever leaf drop due to the lighting change. Ever since I started leaving the lights on 24/7 I have not lost one leaf during the move. I do give them a rest periodically, when I think of it. None of my fruit, flower or vegetable seedlings have suffered.

I switched to straight coir and all issues of damping off have disappeared. If I have a variety that I think needs to be started in a larger pot, because it does not like to be transplanted, I put soil in the bottom 2/3 and coir on top where the seedling will start.
But, I do like to start some of my seeds in a baggie like scottsmith, I use damp coir instead of the paper towel. I pick out the ones that germinated each day and plant in my plug trays.

I switched to wax paper instead of plastic wrap if I have seeds that need more humidity, it keeps the moisture in but seems to breathe better so I don’t get algae.

And I cannot stress enough the need for a small fan.


Checked my onions that I just planted on Thursday night and I already have a couple of sprouts. That’s pretty amazing, I don’t think I’ve had anything sprout that soon.


I have worked out of town , gone for a week at a time for work.
. Yet allwayed raised a garden etc.
trying to start seedlings in the normal seed trays ( cell packs) was …impossible .
They would dry out . Die while I was gone…
Putting seeds in a larger pot worked…
If I sowed seed in a big pot, there was enough water in there to keep them going for a week.
They were not separate " cell packs" but I could have a
Large pot ( bucket ) full of seedlings that were still alive when I came home.
Point being… The more dirt , the longer it takes to dry out.
So if you are going away, or just lazy like me.
Use more soil,…in larger pots… === less time watering…
I am getting ready for the shuffle.
Plants in large pots , stored inside getting ready put out…
Some need repotting / soil added …etc
If I add 2 inches of soil to the top of a pot ( citrus , fig, other,)…there is room for some garden seeds in there. ,!
This is easy. They won’t dry out like those cell packs.
This may not make as nice of a transplant as cell pack , but you can go away ,/ , or be lazy and not worry so much…


I am starting my pepper and tomato plants from seed for the first time this year using 3 1/3" pots in 1020 trays on heating mats, with humidity domes. So far, I have managed to get most of my peppers to come up. Some are still working their way up.

When should I remove the humidity dome and turn off/down the heat?

I have the soil at 84 degrees now. With the T5 lights I am using, the soil will hold at about 72-74 degrees with no heat mats.

Thanks for any input!



I removed my humidity dome once >80% of the seeds have germinated but next year I might do a slower transition by cracking it open 1" for one week, then another couple inches until the plants start to develop their true leaves.

For soil temperature it varies by plant but generally peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers like around 85F until they germinate and then be grown at 72F after.


I had moved my brassicas out to start hardening them this past weekend. This year, for whatever reason, was the best for me in that they all looked healthy and I didn’t see that weird wilting I have had in the past. The plants were moved into larger cells, fertilized and kept in my unheated garage.

So last weekend I had them outside, getting a little sun, and one of my chickens, (Rainbow Heart to be exact) made her way around to the front, where she never goes, and found my brassicas. She tore them up pretty good, eating most of the larger leaves. I think she only full out killed a few of them and the rest seem to be recovering, but this has to have had put me back a few weeks.

Another year, another failure starting brassicas.

I am going to eat that chicken ASAP.


1 planted 20 pots of peppers 2 weeks ago. 5 varieties. had them on a heat mat i bought on amazon. 17 came up so far. i repotted in qt. containers 2 days ago and are growing well. i hope i didn’t start them too soon as they can’t go out in the greenhouse until mid june here. most take 80-90 days to fruit so i wanted to give them a good headstart. :wink:


Status update! Had about a pretty good germination rate and almost all cells are filled. This is about 3 weeks from sowing for everything except peppers, which are 40 days from sowing.

New growth is a bit yellow but turns a healthy green as growth progresses… not sure if that’s normal or not. Seedling all look very healthy otherwise, much healthier than I’ve had in prior years at least.

Algae has basically carpeted the top of the soil and formed this weird crust on top. Doesn’t seem to impact growth so I guess I’ll just learn to live with it.

Seeing some crazy root growth because I’m bottom watering. Some roots that have popped out the bottom of the pot reached 5" long.


Here is my tray of mostly C. Chinense peppers 17 days later than my post above and about a month after they were started. I started these earlier than others I’m growing since they are slow to get going and need a longer season. Also, when planted beside the others I’ve had them get shaded by the faster growing types. I had 2 types have zero germination (empty rows to the right) and have reseeded, but am pretty sure it is just bad seed. This group of seedlings were all turning purple from too much light, but look better now. Some are yellowing/dropping their cotyledon leaves, but I think that is expected at this point. Like most people seem to find, I get algae on most of the cells. It doesn’t seem to effect anything, except that it can be much harder to tell if the soil is getting dry since you don’t see the obvious color change.

Here is the tray I started a few weeks ago (18 days actually) of the other varieties - mostly C. Annuum, but a few C. Baccatum. It is so much easier to see who needs water before the algae shows up!

Most of these are destined for my kid’s school PTA plant sale, but I grow at least one of each variety myself.

I’m thinking of throwing some fast acting lime into my watering can and swishing it around each time I add water to possibly raise the pH and make it less habitable for the algae. Anyone try that?


try watering from the bottom instead. also encourages the roots to spread down faster. a little more tricky to figure out how much water they need but once you get it, its easy.


I recall reading that algae prefers a basic environment (above pH 7) so that might be counterproductive. You can try lowering your water to a pH of 6 without any negative effects on the plants, but I wouldn’t try this unless you have a decent way to measure pH (search my post history for recommendations

I might try this since I already have all the stuff for it and report back. My tap is pH 6.8 usually so that could definitely be a factor for algea growth.


Here is a pic of my flat of onion starts. Looks like a lot of them germinated, I planted about four or five seeds per pod. I sowed the seeds about 2 weeks ago, half are Walla Walla onions, and the other half are Sweet Spanish Utah Giant.