sprouting seeds

Want to start your garden from scratch this year but aren’t sure how to get going?

Don’t worry; germinating your seeds doesn’t have to be the daunting task you think it might be.

Growing from seed offers more variety than buying plants from a store because many nurseries carry limited options. To grow a beautiful variety of plants from seed, here’s a basic guide of what you’ll need to know:

germinating seeds
Image courtesy of Lucy Crosbie.

Getting Started

As a beginner, you want to make this process as easy as possible, so there are a few steps to take to ensure the success of your garden.

  • You can germinate seeds in a paper towel to test them. Wet a paper towel and allow the excess water to drain off the towel for a minute or so; place the towel on a clean, flat surface and evenly space seeds on one side. Fold the paper towel in half and put it into a plastic bag, with a few drops of water at the bottom. Put your bag in a warm place, but not in direct sunlight. Wait three days and remove the bag to see how many seeds have sprouted. If the number of seeds sprouted is high, you can be confident that these seeds are still alive.
  • Pick plants that germinate easily, such as broccoli, lettuce, onions, and peppers. Tomato and basil are both easy seeds. Not only will these two germinate and grow with ease, but they’re also perfect when planted together. Basil enhances the flavor of the tomato plants and also wards off unwanted bugs.


You can start your seeds in almost any container as long as it’s 2 to 3 inches deep and has holes to provide drainage. You can even use old applesauce or yogurt containers, as long as they have been well cleaned and you’ve added holes to the bottom. Always try to reuse containers from previous years; it can save you money and it also reduces the plastic waste being introduced to the environment after disposal.

Grow, little clovers, grow!
Image courtesy of Carmen.

Get Growing

Now that your seeds have sprouted, it’s time to start growing and prepare them to be planted outside.

  • Fill containers with starter mix or create your own.
  • Ensure that you keep your plants moist but aren’t overwatering them, leaving the soil soggy. To give your seedlings the right amount of water, use a spray bottle to mist the plants.
  • Give your seedlings 12 to 15 hours of light; use a grow bulb and timer if necessary.
  • Before planting your seeds outside, you need to acclimate them to the new environment. Start by placing in the shade for 2 to 3 hours a day. Slowly increase the time plants spend outside over the course of a week, and then when the weather is right, plant them

Timing is crucial to the health of your plants, so do some research about the best time to move your plants to their new homes. Your new seedlings will save you money and result in a higher-quality product in the end.

Feature image courtesy of Ritesh Man Tamrakar

By Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a writer and blogger with a passion for wellness and eco-friendly living. She has contributed to Earth911, Mother Earth News, The Huffington Post as well as other healthy and green living publications. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.