If you want to have lots of plants to sow in your garden or to sell to friends and family, the best way of obtaining large amounts is to grow them from seed. With the many different varieties of flowers and shrubs that are available, starting them from seed indoors is the best way of getting the best quality plants. However, it must be done correctly with the right soil, temperature, humidity, and careful attention when you place them in the soil outdoors.
Most gardeners who want to grow a small amount of plants from seed start off by planting the seeds in small pots. This is not the best choice because of the limited space in the pots and the small amount of soil they can contain. Seed pans are a better option, but you do have to pay careful attention to the seeds.
A wooden box is even better and you can easily make your own by getting a soap or cracker box from a grocer. Saw the box in two-inch sections and remove all the nails and wire staples. Leave the bottom boards a few inches apart or bore holes in the bottom so that the water can pour through. Such a box can easily accommodate hundreds or thousands of seeds. Cover the bottom of the box with leaves or coarse material and then add the soil.
The soil for the seeds you start growing indoors does not need to be very rich. In fact, experts advise that you do not have fertilizer or manure in it. You can make the soil from three different ingredients of equal parts – garden loam, leaf mould and sand. The mixture should be light and feathery and feel crumbly. Do not fill the box to the top because you need to leave room for the water.
Cover the bottom layer with water and then add about two-thirds of the soil. Level out the soil using a board, but don’t pack it down firmly. Mark out the spaces in the box for the seeds you want to plant so that they are about two inches apart. Sow the seeds to a depth of about three to five times their size. Cover the seeds with the remaining soil and level off the top. Moisten this layer with a little water – a sprinkler is fine for this.
In order for the seeds to germinate quickly, you should have the temperature set about ten to fifteen degrees higher than what the plants will need when they are transplanted outdoors. Try to have the heat source at the bottom of the plants rather than from the top. You can even place the box of seeds on the top of a radiator or a furnace duct to ensure that they do receive the heat they need. There is no such thing as the soil being too warm when the seeds are germinating.
For the first few days, the box of seeds can be kept in the shade. However, once the first signs of germination start to appear, they need all the light they can get. At this time, place them under a light that stays on at all times and if possible place them in the window during the day to give them sunlight. Check the soil on a regular basis to make sure it is still moist. Once you notice that it is starting to dry out, then you can water the seedlings, but only do so in the morning.