How Do You Start Your Seedlings?

I am happy to be back to blogging after the holiday. I meant to leave a more upbeat post up over Christmas but have been having a lot of trouble with my internet connection and therefore gave up. I have some nice Christmas pics to post and I’d like to share what gifts we gave this year, as well as some nice things we received.

Today, though, I would like to discuss something that has been on my mind a lot, and apparently on others too. Let’s talk about garden plans! The latest edition of Hobby Farms is full of tips and tricks for garden planning. Sharon Astyk posted awhile back about signs of a possible seed shortage so I sorted through what was left of last year’s seeds and made my list for this year.

I order my seeds almost exclusively through Baker Creek Seed Co. at They are a great company to deal with and produce a wonderful catalog chuck full of good information. The real reason I prefer them is because they care so much about seed integrity and I trust them. Frankly, I don’t have to time or the knowledge to sort through other catalogs and pick out the seeds that are non-GMO, “safe”, etc. I have some basic knowledge of those concepts but feel good ordering there until I take time to expand my knowledge.

I did have a lot of seeds left from last year. Not because I wanted to but because the first batch of seedlings I started didn’t do very well so I gave up on a lot of the plants that require early starting. Last year I used black plastic trays and a mix of peat, vermiculite, and perlite. I planted the seeds as directed and kept the soil moist. The trays sat on a big table near our cornstove so they were very warm. Then when the plants emerged I moved them upstairs to our bay window. The temperature was quite a bit cooler but they needed the light. I tried to rotate the trays regularly to prevent the seedlings from growing crooked but they got very spindly and almost none lived once I moved them outside.

I checked with the hometown greenhouse but the owner doesn’t have any room to start veggies for me, she uses all her space for flowers. Last year I bought a flat of tomato seedlings and they produced well but they were definitely no heirloom variety. This makes me think there may be a market for any extra seedlings I produced.

I’ve looked at growing setups in catalogs and they all seem to be quite expensive. I’ve heard of people using those long tube lights (forgive me I forget the correct name for them!). Should I invest in some of those or look into a small greenhouse? I would love to hear what works for you! I’m not necessarily opposed to buy seedlings I just haven’t found a local source of the types I want.

Keep in mind I’m in Michigan so I don’t plant much outside until May or June. Tomatoes are my main concern, and last year I remember trying some broccoli and onions so we could have an early supply of them.


4 thoughts on “How Do You Start Your Seedlings?

  1. Abbie

    I started seeds in my house last year. My classroom has a greenhouse attached to it, but I can’t use it for my own stuff, haha. But I do let my botany students start seeds there and take them home. Here’s a link to my post about it: year we didn’t have a garden fence yet, so I started lettuce and peas indoors, but now I’ll just put them in the ground. Peas can go in as early as St. Patrick’s day here. Cabbage, broccoli, spinach and lettuce can all do well at colder temperatures, too. I’ll probably only start tomatoes indoors this year.I’ve been reading “The New Seed Starter’s Handbook” which gives a lot of good information about starting seeds. “Four Season Harvest” is also a really good resource about cold frames, greenhouse, etc. if you’re interested in that stuff.You can grow seedlings without extra lighting in a South-facing window. They need about 14-16 hours of sunlight, according to the book I’m reading now. I don’t think ours got enough sun last year, but I’ll probably relocate them to our garage once they’ve germinated, which will be cooler but will have more sun. I have them germinate in the basement by the woodstove this year, which will be nice and warm for them.Happy planting šŸ™‚

  2. Jena

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to check out the “Four Season Harvest” book. I’ve never read that one and suppose it would have a lot of relevant information. Off to check out your post…

  3. farm mom

    Here’s how this fellow Michigander does it: can see the dates on these too, for a loose time frame. Good luck! šŸ™‚


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