Growing plants from seed is a rewarding activity, It's not all that complicated, but if you're trying it for the first time, it's helpful to read and see how seasoned gardeners approach the task, from selecting seeds to planting, maintaining, watering, and ultimately planting the young seedlings out in the garden. 

In this four-part collection of articles, blog posts, and videos from FineGardening.com and our sister site VegetableGardener.com, novice and experienced gardeners alike will find useful tips and techniques for getting their ornamental and vegetable seedlings off to the best possible start.

1. What to grow, and where to get seeds (this page)
2. How to start seeds
3. Equipment you'll need
4. Caring for your seedlings

If you are starting a garden for the first time, or if you've never started vegetable or flower seeds before, keep in mind that there is no absolute "right" way. Like so many things in gardening, and in life, there are many approaches that work, so don't be confused by differing recommendations.

1. What to grow, and where to get seeds:
easy seeds to start, seed catalog reviews
What to Do with Leftover Seeds What to Do with Leftover Seeds
Seeds can remain viable for several seasons. If you have more old seeds than you plan to plant, check out VegetableGardener.com blogger Jodi Torpey's suggestions for ways to swap and share with other gardeners.   Read more...
 10 Perennials Easily Grown from Seed 10 Perennials Easily Grown from Seed
How does one go about growing perennials from seed, and what are the best plants for beginners to start with? You'll find out here.   Read more...
Starting Wildflowers from Seed Starting Wildflowers from Seed
William Cullina, a well-known authority on native North American plants, covers the topic in depth, from how to gather, prep, store, and start wildflower seeds. You'll also find a list of zones and germination requirements for 41 woodland wildflowers.   Read more...
  The 10 Easiest Plants to Grow from Seed
First-time seed starters should check out this list of veggies and flowers with a high success rate when planted from seed.   Read more...
 Grow Lettuce from Seed Grow Lettuce from Seed
If you grow lettuce from seed, you can sample wonderful heirloom varieties you won't find at the garden center. If you start your lettuce seeds indoors, you can arrange the seedlings in colorful patterns when you plant them out.   Read more...
A Time to Sow A Time to Sow
Culinary herbalist Susan Belsinger offers timely tips on starting vegetable and herb seeds.   Read more...
Seed Catalog Reviews Seed Catalog Reviews
This year's seed and garden catalogs are off the presses and headed your way. Before you place your orders, read our short reviews and post your comments..   Read the reviews...


 


2. How to start seeds:
an overview

 Video: Starting Seeds Indoors Video: Starting Seeds Indoors
In this video, part of the "How to Start a Vegetable Garden" video series, Fine Gardening editors Steve Aitken and Danielle Sherry present the basics: what you'll need in the way of equipment, how to prepare the planting medium, and how to plant the seeds.   Watch the video...
Video: Seed Viability Test Video: Seed Viability Test
Most seeds will keep for a few years, but as they age, they are less likely to sprout. In this video, VegetableGardener.com blogger Greg Holdsworth demonstrates an easy way to test your seeds. If their germination rate in the test is low, you still have plenty of time to buy a new packet.   Watch the video...
10 Seed-Starting Tips 10 Seed-Starting Tips
Adrianna Vargo, nursery manager at the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants at Monticello, has started thousands of ornamental and vegetable plants from seed. Learn how she gets seedlings off to the healthiest possible start.   Read more...
 Video: Seed Starting Pre-Treat Video: Seed Starting Pre-Treat
In the natural world, the freeze/thaw cycle and abrasion make it easier for seeds to sprout. In this video, Adrianna Vargo demonstrates soaking, scarification and cold stratification, three easy techniques that simulate natural processes and facilitate germination.   Watch the video...
 Video: How to Start Seeds Video: How to Start Seeds
California gardening coach and VegetableGardener.com site member JMTaylor shows how he starts seeds en masse. You probably aren't going to start thousands of plants, but you can glean a lot of useful tips.   Watch the video...
 Video: A Simple Way to Start Seeds Indoors Video: A Simple Way to Start Seeds Indoors
Connecticut gardener Ruth Dobsevage starts Thai Hot pepper seeds in recycled containers. The tools and equipment are minimal, and the technique is elementary. You can use this approach for most other seeds, too.   Watch the video...
 Seed-Starting Strategies Seed-Starting Strategies
Get an overview of seed starting from a California edible-landscape designer. Useful info here includes when to start lettuce, tomato, and other commonly grown vegetables relative to your planting-out date, advice on starting mixes, and hints for keeping your seedlings healthy and getting them ready for outdoor conditions.   Read more...


 


3. Seed-starting equipment: lights,
containers, starting mixes, and more

What You'll Need to Start Seeds Indoors What You'll Need to Start Seeds Indoors
If you're new to seed starting, check out this overview of what you'll need to try your hand at it.  Read more...
DIY Heat Mat DIY Heat Mat
Incandescent rope lighting, some scrap wood, and fasteners can be turned into a serviceable heat mat at a fraction of the cost of a commercial model.  Get the instructions...
PVC Grow Light Stand Build a Tabletop Grow-Light Stand
With a few basic tools and plastic pipe from the home center, you can build a tabletop grow-light stand for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought model. VegetableGardener.com blogger Greg Holdsworth offers a detailed parts list and a step-by-step photo tutorial.  Get the plan...
Build a Tiered Growing Stand Build a Tiered Growing Stand
Not all windowsills are sunny. If your seedlings need more light than your windows can provide, build them a light stand out of readily available parts. With this plan and materials list, master carpenter skills are not required.   Get the plan...
Video: Artificial Light for Seedlings Artificial Light for Seedlings
Without a good source of light, seedlings will become weak and spindly. In this video, Barbara Pierson, of White Flower Farm in Litchfield, Connecticut, covers the basics of lighting seedlings, including light sources, warmth, timing, and distance from the seedlings.   Watch the video...
 Video: Make Pots from Recycled Newspaper Video: Make Pots from Recycled Newspaper
Patti Moreno and her daughter show how to make planting pots by wrapping old newspaper around a can. It's a great recycling project to do with kids.   Watch the video...
  Save Recycled Containers for Starting Spring Seeds
Don't spend your money on fancy seed-starting flats. Just look around your house, says VegetableGardener.com blogger Chris McLaughlin. You probably already have plenty of old containers that are perfect for starting seeds.   Read more...
 Frugal Seed-Starting Trays Frugal Seed-Starting Trays
VegetableGardener.com member girlyandgreen explains how she fashions used egg cartons into containers for starting seeds.   Read more...
 Seed Starting in Speedling Trays Seed Starting in Speedling Trays
Speedling trays are manufactured with openings that taper toward the bottom, so seedlings are easier to remove. Master Gardener Yvette Savio explains their benefits.   Read more...
 Soil-Block Your Seeds Soil-Block Your Seeds
Organic market gardener Tina Fraser starts seeds in soil blocks made by a soil blocker, a device that compresses starter mix into cubes. With this method, you don't need separate pots; you plant your seeds in the cubes. You can use your own recipe for starter mix, or try the one recommended here.   Read more...
 Soil-Block Recipe for Pumpkins and Squash Soil-Block Recipe for Pumpkins and Squash
Here's a soil-block formula tailored to the needs of squash and pumpkins.   Read more...


 


4. Caring for your seedlings:
transplanting, pinching,
fertilizing, hardening off,
and planting in the garden

Watering your seeds and seedlings Watering Your Seed(ling)s
Moisture is essential for seed germination. VegetableGardener.com blogger Greg Holdsworth describes three methods for keeping your seeds watered, before and after they sprout.  Read more...
 Video: How to Transplant Seedlings Video: How to Transplant Seedlings
VegetableGardener.com member JMTaylor transplants small seedlings into larger flats and also shows how to prep a garden bed for the next step: transplanting into the garden.   Watch the video...
Get Those Seedlings in the Ground Get Those Seedlings in the Ground
You plant your seeds, and they sprout. Now you need to maintain them until you plant them out. Former Fine Gardening editor Linda Wesley offers tips on lighting, fertilizing, repotting, pinching, and accustoming them to outdoor conditions. When the time comes, they'll be off to a great start.   Read more...
 Video: Direct Sowing Vegetable Seeds Video: Direct Sowing Vegetable Seeds
In this video, part of Fine Gardening's How to Start a Vegetable Garden series, associate editor Danielle Sherry demonstrates two ways to sow seeds directly in the garden: planting in hills (for pumpkins and squash) and planting in troughs (radishes, carrots, and lettuce).   Watch the video...

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