How I Start Seeds Indoors Tips & Techniques

when it comes to seed starting I get a

lot of questions so in today's video I'm

gonna walk you through the entire

process of what I do to get great

results every time


hey everybody Joel ample here and I just

wanted to show you how I start my seats

this time last week I was in this very

kitchen sewing dozens of varieties of

tomatoes and peppers and a week later

literally exactly a week later I've got

lots of seed trays like this that are

looking great these are Tomatoes right

here but I'll show you the other ones

downstairs when I take these down under

the lights but this is just exactly one

week and so a lot of you have been

asking about the process that I use to

start my seed successfully it's very

easy you only need a few things and it's

not expensive so I thought I would just

take this Saturday afternoon because I

have more seeds to sow and show you the

process it'll be kind of raw it's just

me showing you through the iPhone how to

do it but it ought to give you a good

idea of how to replicate exactly the

same process and get good results too

okay so here we go let's start with

showing you the things that I need to

put this all together and make it work

okay so this is pretty much everything

and I only have this bag on the table to

show you what I use now this is a

commercial-grade seed starting mix this

is pro mix but there are others that are

just like it basically let me show you

what's in this bag and by the way it's

2.8 cubic feet so it's a pretty good

sized bag I'd say that's at least 4 feet

tall and you can get a lot of seed trays

filled out of this but I love this stuff

a lot better than what you just buy at

the box stores but this is basically

peat moss commercial grade or

horticultural grade vermiculite it's got

some pine shavings in here or ground-up

bark I should say and then a little bit

of a wetting agent and some lime to

bring the pH up to neutral

and that's it but it's just really nice

to work with and the plants respond

obviously very well and then you know

scoop just to get it into the tray which

is this right here now I like to use

these 4 inch deep pots that all fill up

with the potting mix or the seed

starting mix correctly and then a tray

underneath the solid tray that doesn't

have holes in it because

once I had the water and wet wet the

soil then I bought them feed the water

so the water is basically being taken up

through the holes in the trays so I'm

not wetting the top after the seeds

germinate I'll explain more about that

in a minute but that's why the bottom

tray is solid so I set an insert into

the solid tray and then I'm gonna fill

it with this with a soilless mix and

then I'll show you how to disperse the

seeds but the other thing that you

should have on hand of course besides

the seeds make sure you have your tags

right off the bat because if you don't

get your seeds tagged right away you may

forget what's what and then you're just

gonna be sorry that you didn't do that

right on the spot so I've learned the

hard way and I make a point of tagging

right as I'm adding the seeds the other

thing I'm going to show you in a second

as I do it it's this little thing right

here now it's just one of those

measuring cups that you get a small one

that it has the tablespoon and the

ounces in it but I found that if I put

my seeds into this it's easy to see the

season and all disperse that disperse

them into these holes and it's really

easy to do that and you'll get a better

sense of that when I do it and show you

what I'm doing and then this green thing

right here just holds the overflow or

the excess soil this may spill out or

when I overhead water initially to wet

the seeds obviously it's nice to have

something to be sure you're not spilling

over and yes I do this in my kitchen it

just seems to work because I have access

to water right there and have a nice big

area to work in and then I clean up

afterwards so that's the basics of the

tools that I need to do everything other

than get them down onto the lights and

that will be the last thing I show you

today so let's get some seeds planted

okay so once you have everything in

place the first thing I like to do is

add the soilless mix into the liner so

that's what this great big scoop is for

you can use really anything but I just

like this and you're just getting it in

there to fill it up right to the top

because it will settle

did you see how loose this is just nice

and fluffy and this program material

that you can get at a greenhouse supply

store you don't have to be a commercial

business as far as I know but you can

look them up online

Griffin greenhouse supply is the place

that I use I think they've got locations

all over the country if you wanted to

check it out but it's inexpensive when

you need to start a lot of seeds and you

need a good bulk amount of soil and a

bag that bag was about 16 dollars I

think and it makes a lot of trays okay

so that's right up to the top of that

soilless mix and really now the next

step is to spread the seed so let me

show you how I do that and where that

little measuring cup comes in handy

okay so mate I've made my tags already

I'll show you those so important to make

your tags and then put the date on it

and I also put a code for the company of

the where the seeds came from so in case

there's a problem or great success or

something I'll just be able to link that

back to the company just for reference

purposes but oh wait there's really good

information on that seed pack you should

read that if you've never done this

before it gives you a good indication of

how deep to sow the seeds tomatoes go

right on the surface pretty much I'll

show you that as we do it but what I

want to show you right now I pour all

the seeds into this little cup okay and

they're in there you can barely see them

well what's nice about this and they're

supposed to be about 30 seeds in here

and what I'm gonna do is put about 16

seeds in each of these four inch

compartments and later as the seedlings

get bigger I'll divide them up but what

you need to know now is that this is a

really efficient way to get a lot of

seedlings in a small space so with 30

seeds or so

there I put about up to 16 seeds in each

4 inch square so I'll use 2 of these

squares and I'll use up all of these

seeds so I'll be able to tap the seeds

out just work them to the edge and then

I'll be able to lightly get them where I

wanted to go 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 okay so that's not

precise but that gets you really close

and I'll do the same thing again here

and I'll use up that whole pack within

these 2 4 and square cell compartments

and that'll get me you know roughly 15

16 plants per 4-inch container that I'll

divide later

and usually when they say like 30 seeds

or whatever the count is on the packet

more often than not you're getting more

than that it's usually the minimum that

you're getting when they have that

number there in this case I know I've

already done about 16 and I have another

8 left but rather than start another

forints so I'll just go ahead and find

some room to add these remaining seeds

okay so those are done and it wouldn't

hurt to put those tags in here right now

so don't forget what I've done and then

I'm just gonna work my way across I have

several other varieties that I'm gonna

put into here and that's the beauty of

this but you can get a lot of different

varieties in one tray and this alone is

over 30 plants and just these two so

that's the idea kind of a semi dense

planting technique using these four-inch

compartments so I'll go ahead and finish

this out and then we'll take it to the

next step okay so the seeds are

completely sewn right at the surface

level and now all I want to do is

lightly cover the seeds with a little

more of the soilless seed starting mix

and when you look on the packet and it

says sow your seeds 1/4 inch or 1/16

inch deep I mean how do you do that

really well you do this you just put

them on the surface and then you just go

over the top of it lightly in fact what

I do is I'll take this sift this scoop

and then I'll just let some of it sift

out through my fingers until I can't see

the seeds anymore and that is good


and the only reason you really do this

is just to keep some moisture at the

above the seed so it doesn't dry out why

it's waiting to germinate and that's

really all this is for now one optional

step I could do here is lightly tamp it

down I don't really want to pack these

seeds in at all but it doesn't hurt to

just make sure that the seeds have good

contact with the soil above and below so

I'm just ever so lightly evening this

out and the last thing I'm going to do

before I put the dome on this and take

it downstairs under the lights is make

sure this is nice and watered in and

I'll show you that step next okay it's

ready for the water now the most

important thing at this point I'd like

to use warm water just a personal

preference so I wait for it to get warm

and then I put it on the shower option

which I'm about to do but before I do I

just wanted to tell you that this is

really important to make sure there's

enough water saturating this soil

because the dome goes on after this and

it doesn't get watered again until they

germinate and you don't want those seeds

to dry out before that happens because

then you know you may lose those seats

for good so you'll know when this gets

nice and heavy it'll feel saturated and

that's what you're after it's okay if

there's some water in the bottom because

that's really how it's gonna continue to

absorb more moisture to keep the seeds

wet to begin with so I like to have some

water in the bottom and that's when you

know you've got enough so I'll put this

on the shower option now and just really

go at it and the other thing about

commercial seed starting mix because it

has a wetting agent in it the water

really gets in there unlike some of

those products that you buy at the box

stores that are just the seed starting

mix they don't have the wedding agent in

it and it doesn't seem like the water

ever gets into that soil it's very

frustrating but you if you've ever done

that you're gonna see the difference

right here because the water is going to

go right

and I really like that

the other thing is this is allowing the

seats to really settle in to their new

environment and so the soil gets on top

of it and just really gets them off to a

good start so I go back and forth in

both directions

I'll check it that's feeling about right

it's got a good weight to it so I know

that it's fairly saturated but there's

no water yet at the bottom of course it

needs to drain down into that but I can

even afford to give it a little bit more

and like I said as that water is

draining through here into that tray

below its gonna catch it all and just

hold it there and then wick it back up

into that soil medium as is needed

while these seeds are germinating and so

that's all good so I've got a plastic

cover I'm going to put over this and I'm

gonna take it down and put it under

lights the plastic cover is only there

to hold the moisture in and tell these

seeds germinate and as soon as you see

germination you want to remove this

plastic cover but see that condensation

cloud forming already that's a really

good sign and you want that until they

germinate so that shows you and you know

for sure there's good moisture in this

seed starting chamber that's a good sign

okay so these are the seeds that we just

sowed and you can see that condensation

all built up on that dome and again you

just leave that there until the seeds

germinate and I'm gonna put this on my

rack with all these other ones and

there's a heat mat underneath here the

beet mat provides supplemental heat of

course to about 70 degrees ambient

temperature and that's really gonna help

these seeds germinate especially when

this room is really cool and then

evening or whatever it's not as heated

as the rest of the house and so it's

nice to have that extra heat that bottom

heat that's gonna help stimulate those

seeds to germinate and help their roots

to develop too so you could leave the

heat mat on through the whole time that

they're at this smaller stage before you

bump them up I usually don't worry about

that my primary focus with the heat mat

is to make sure that it helps get those

seeds germinated faster that's the main

thing and it gets the temperature to

about 70 maybe 75 degrees soil

temperature and that's perfect for these

seats so again leave the dome on until

the seeds start to show signs of

germinating and then take it off and

just make sure this the moisture stays

adequate in the tray after that if you

left the dome on too long you could run

the risk of additional damping off it's

a fungal disease

they can kill the seedlings so just

eliminate the dome once you see the

beginning signs of germination the other

important thing you need to do see these

fans right here you want to have air

movement across the soil surface once

that dome comes off you want to keep air

moving and that helps cut down the risk

of what's called damping off that's the

fungal disease that could kill the

seedlings but you probably won't have

that be an issue if you have really good

seed starting mix like what I recommend

it or just buying a quality product that

says seed starting mix it's gonna be

sterile it's not gonna have that disease

in the soil to begin with typically but

to play it safe this is why you do it do

that also the lighting now these are LED

lights this happens to be 300 watt

lighting it's 21 inches above the top of

the seedlings and this is my second year

doing LED lights and I've experimented

with this and I've had good success

since last year in finding the sweet

spot but it's a little bit tricky to

figure it out it depends on the wattage

of the LED but I've got some podcast

links that are gonna be really helpful

to you and I'll put them in this post

and you ought to listen to those because

it's gonna walk you through the lighting

issues and the other seed starting

things to consider so this was just a

really quick tutorial of what I do for

my process it's very successful and if

you want to replicate that you just

learned how to do it but the podcast

there's four episodes that are really

gonna get you to the level of knowing a

lot more than what I talked about today

so I hope you found that helpful and I

hope I remember to say everything I

wanted to say but this should get you

well on your way so good luck everybody