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Most vegetable, perennial, and annual plants can be started from seed in your home.

Due to the short growing season in Western New York, many varieties need to be started indoors weeks or months in advance of transplanting outside. Others however prefer cold or cool weather to germinate and must be planted directly in the ground outdoors.

Creating Your Own Seed Starting Mix

Understanding Seed Packets

Seed starting mixes are ideal to ensure proper germination of your seeds as they are more lightweight and finer in texture than ordinary potting soil. If you've been saving your compost, you can easily create your own seed starting mix with the addition of a couple ingredients.

Planting Your Seeds

To start your seeds, you will need containers, seed starting mix, and a light source. You can use seedling cell packs, compostable pots, or a variety of small household recyclables. Grow lights are ideal, but a sunny window will also suffice, especially if the seedlings will only be indoors for a short period of time.

Transplanting Your Seedlings

As your seedlings begin to grow, they may need to eventually be transplanted into larger containers in order for their roots to continue to expand. This is also a good time to add nutrients to the soil as the seedlings have exhausted their stored food supply and now must uptake nutrients from the soil.

In addition to a picture and description of a plant, the seed packet will usually contain all the necessary information for sowing the seeds, care of the seedling, transplanting, placement, and even harvesting. Read closely, because this information can be vital to the success of your seed starting.

Watering and Thinning Guide

Once your seeds have germinated, they will require some care until they can be transplanted outside into the garden. Proper watering is essential, and once your seedlings gain their first set of true leaves, they may need added nutrients to grow a healthy root system and foliage.

Outdoor Direct Sowing

Cool weather vegetables and crops with delicate root systems need to be sown directly into the outside garden. The seed packet instructions will let you know if it is recommended that the plant is sown directly outdoors or needs to be started inside.

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