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Why Seed Starting is Essential for Every Gardener

Young smiling African-American woman doing seed-starting early in the spring indoors for her backyard garden or a homestead garden

Most gardening enthusiasts know that the key to a successful and bountiful harvest lies in the early stages of plant growth. Seed starting is a crucial skill that allows you to set your entire gardening process up for success. In this guide, we'll explore the ins and outs of seed starting for your garden—from the benefits to the essential steps and products you need to get started.


Benefits of Seed Starting

Why is seed starting such a game-changer for Hampton Roads’ gardeners? Starting your plants from seeds provides several advantages, such as the ability to grow a wider variety of plant options, cost savings as seeds cost much less than sprouted plants, and more successful growth because you’re able to provide your plants optimal conditions  from its earliest stages. 

Another great benefit of seed starting is the ability to customize and tailor your garden’s growing process to suit the needs of each individual plant. 


The Seed Starting Process

The best way to begin the seed starting process is by selecting high-quality seeds from reputable suppliers. You can follow this seed starting process to grow vegetables, flowers, herbs, or any other plant that can survive in Virginia’s climate. You should also consider these items for successful seed starting:

  • Seed Starting Mix: A nutrient-rich and well-draining seed starting mix is the foundation for healthy seedlings. Look for mixes that contain a blend of peat moss and amendments for optimal results.
  • Watering Can: Consistent moisture is crucial for seed germination. Use a watering can on the soil surface regularly to keep it evenly moist but not waterlogged or drowned.
  • Seed Trays or Pots: Select pots or trays with holes for drainage to avoid soggy soil and encourage strong root growth. Jiffy's seed trays are excellent for starting seeds.
  • Seed Starter Kits: Using starter kits with soil pods will eliminate any guesswork when it comes to seed starting. These easy-to-use, expandable pods are nutrient rich and aid significantly in seed growth. Many seed starter kids also include a plastic humidity dome, which can help lock in moisture.
  • Heat Mats: Creating a warm environment for your seedlings can be a great way to help them germinate faster. Heat mats gently warm the root area of your seed pods and can aid in the success of your seedlings. 
  • Grow Lights: If natural sunlight is limited, an easy way to supplement is with grow lights. Position the lights a few inches above the seedlings to provide adequate light for healthy growth even if sunshine is scarce.

To start your seeds, simply fill the seed trays or pots with the seed starting mix, making sure it is well-moistened. Plant the seeds according to the recommended depth on the seed packet. If you are using pods, insert seeds gently into the pods and water. 

You can cover the trays with plastic domes or wrap to create a greenhouse effect that promotes germination, or place the trays on top of a heat mat for extra warmth. You will also want to place the trays in a well-lit area, either in direct sunlight or under grow lights, and water often to ensure the soil remains consistently moist.


Caring for Seedlings and Transplanting

As your seedlings emerge, remove the plastic domes or wrap and gradually expose them to ambient air. Once the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, transplant them into larger containers. You can harden off the seedlings by gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions before transplanting them into the garden for the season.


Learning the skill of seed starting can open up a world of possibilities for gardeners. With the right items and a solid understanding of the process, you can enjoy a flourishing garden that you've nurtured from the very beginning. If you have any questions at all throughout your gardening venture, stop by your neighborhood Taylor’s Do it Center. We’d be happy to help!


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