Seed Starting Indoors Under Grow Lights 101

what's going on everyone Kenneth

remember gardening here today we're

doing seed starting basics by the end of

the video you're gonna know my approach

to starting seeds which works really

well for me indoors so I've got my

system here we're gonna talk about that

I've got my seed storage container which

I've upgraded since the last time I've

done a video like this so let's get into


the first thing I want to show you is

just a handy way to store seeds now I've

come up with a couple methods in the

past this one I got for my friend

Deanna now it's basically a photo

organizer so what I've done for example

if I wanna get my lettuces I've got them

all right here I can pop it open I have

all my packs perfectly saved and

organized exactly how I want so that's a

fun little tip before we get into the

seed starting this thing right here has

saved my life so the next thing I want

to explain is containers now there's a

lot of different ways you can do this

you can DIY it with eggshells pots

newspaper etc this is what I'm using

right now it's from gardeners supply

company and you might be saying it's

just a normal tray and in effect this

part is pretty normal it's a 24 cell

insert they're a little bit larger than

the average just because you know it's

only 24 cells it's not like 72 or a

hundred but what makes this one pretty

unique and actually very simple because

I'm all about simplicity especially when

you're seed starting there's a lot of

things that can go wrong this has proven

to prevent many of those for me so it's

got a bottom tray here this tray is

empty and then there's a platform right

here now this platform you fill this

part up with water

you put the platform on it and then you

put this on which is effectively just

like a capillary mat it's a sponge like

substance that is a little bit longer

you can see it's a little bit longer

than the tray because it kind of comes

off right there now the reason for that

is you put the edge down and then water

will wick up from here all the way

across this mat and then when you have

soil or seat starting mix you put it in

here the soil touches from the bottom of

these holes the capillary mat and water

will wick upwards from the bottom then

what you do is you put your humidity

dome on wait for the seedlings to pop

off take it off and you've got pretty


moisture that's being bottom watered so

that solves a couple different problems

in the garden especially when you're

starting seeds you're not over watering

but you're also not forgetting to water

because it's pulling from the bottom and

auto watering for you and then second

you're preventing almost all cases of

damping off disease unless you're not

using sterilized equipment which we're

going to talk about in a second but

figured I'd run through this like I said

there's many ways you can do this this

is my preferred method right now just

because it works really really well it's

very consistent and that's what I'm

about I don't want a lot of errors

happening in my seed starting process

next thing we're talking about is the

soil or the seed starting mix now here's

one that I like a lot again it's from

gardeners it's their organic seed

starting mix gardener Supply Company

this one from s Poma is also pretty

solid it's an organic seed starting mix

so basically both of these organic seed

starting values so the question becomes

you know how do I make my own if I want

to and why is it what's the difference

between like a seed starting mix and

really any other type of soil mix so

let's take a look at what's in both of

these and then that'll inform how to

make your own if you want or just give

you some knowledge what's in it why is

it better why is it called a seed

starting mix why does it work well for

seeds so in our gardeners mix you've got

bio blended compost which is compost

manures and plant materials so

effectively it's just compost Spagna

peat moss perlite and then mineral

nutrient amendments so there's some

nutrition in the form of compost then

you've got your peat moss for water

retention your perlite for drainage and

then some extra amendments right there

so let's take a look at the assumed omma

mix it says 75 to 85 percent of peat

moss and then peat huma's perlite

earthworm castings so this is much

heavier on the peat moss but then

they've added some mycorrhizal fungi

which I've talked about quite a bit as

well as some other beneficial bacteria

and fungi so really interesting mix here

you may even try a compare and contrast

the purposes of this video I am gonna go

with the gardener supply company one

because it's the one I've had slightly

better results with all righty so it's

time to take a little look at what our

mix is like and you know seed starting

mix in general is just much finer

grained so

you know compared to a raised bed mix

there's not going to be a lot of wood

chip products not a lot of like forest

products in this you want it to be very

finely grained and you can see here I'll

take a little spoonful of it

crunch it out and put it up to you guys

you can see it's extremely fine-grained

and that's what you want you don't want

your seedlings to be running into a

bunch of things so what I'm gonna do now

is you want it to be kind of like a damp

like a sponge you're already squeezed

out that's the dampness that you're

going for and I really do like to

moisten it before I add it into my trays

because the job just is a lot easier and

it's just a lot easier to kind of get

this big cauldron of soil and go ahead

and mix it all up so I just do this

because you know usually I get a little

messy but I'm trying to practice being a

little bit more sanitary

here in the garden especially because

I'm starting seeds actually right now in

my bedroom which you might say is a

little crazy but with the system that

you're about to see in a little bit it's

just a really cool way to do it I wake

up in the morning I can check out my

seedlings see how my houseplants are

doing and so I'm just gonna go ahead and

keep on mixin mix and mix it

okay we are mixed up and it is now time

to take it into the tray now one thing I

forgot to mention is the importance of

sterilization you know this was a

sterile mix you saw me open the bag up

and then I'm using a new tray if I

wasn't using a new tray I would go

through a disinfection process where I'd

use a mixture of food grade hydrogen

peroxide and water and then just dunk

these trays my utensils anything I'm

using for seed starting in that to just

kill off anything that could potentially

colonize and hurt the seedlings early in

their life so let's go ahead and get

this into the tray so because of the

tray design like I said I'm gonna

hydrate this capillary mat and fill up

the reservoir just so I don't have to

worry about it later and you know if

you're using a different system of

course this step isn't gonna be relevant

to you but you know make sure maybe even

put a little bit of water in the bottom

of the tray just so you have some of

that bottom watering going on but what

we're doing now is we are just going to

fill these up what I like to do is like

to get it pretty close to the surface

but not all the way then I sew and then

I sprinkle another layer so that's how I

do my soil depth I don't necessarily

poke holes all the time I like to do it

this way works a little better for me

and honestly it's a little bit less

effort so let's go ahead and scoop in

so here's what I'm going to be starting

today it's a funky mix of things I

figured it'd be fun to do that with you

guys got those jobs tears from my other

video I've got my loofah I've got just a

classic California wonder pepper this is

a special one so this is a very rare

variety of pepper from my friend Jason

over at BOE hiccup pepper Hut it's a

cross that he created so there's not too

many of these seeds it's a peaches and

cream pepper that's really really hot so

we're gonna see how that one goes

then I've got classic nasturtiums which

kind of grows a weed here in San Diego

but I'm still gonna grow them we've got

glacier early Tomatoes a really good

early tomato variety probably my

favorite one then I've got a rainbow

cherry which is gonna be fun and then

we've got our Chinese pink celery so

it's a good little mix and that gives us

some opportunity to talk about different

types of seeds as we seed them before we

even start doing seeds we've got to talk

about labeling if you don't have any

kind of label and you don't write these

things let's write in a stir shim that's

gonna be the name if there's any this is

terrible handwriting if there's any

variety right the variety and then write

the date so this is March 2nd 2019 if

you don't do this guys you're gonna hate

your life later so what I'm gonna do is

I'm gonna put that back here I'm

planting this vertical row so this label

will apply to all of these so the first

in the ground is gonna be nasturtiums

now I get a lot of questions about how

deep what do I have to do it cetera you

really have to read the back of the seed

packet guys because every seeds


this one says planted an inch deep

because it requires darkness to Germany

so obviously that's what I'm gonna do

now the other thing to talk about if you

don't have any info on the back of your

si packet is the size of the seed this

is a very big seed generally you go at

least twice the length of the seed deep

into the soil so this would be at least

a half an inch so we're gonna drop two

in per hole and I have a rule that I

usually almost always will do two per

hole unless you're talking about like a

compound seed like a chart or a beet and

that's just because it's simple math you

want a guaranteed germination I have an

entire video on that so our nasturtiums

is in

our next one in is the luffa gourd which

I am really excited about this year this

is a big seed I'm gonna plant it

vertically so I'm gonna plant it just

like that because I want where these

seed leaves to emerge

I want them emerging at the absolute

best place I don't want them have to do

any work they don't have to do

absolutely so I'm gonna plant them

vertically so that when it sprouts it

doesn't have to reorient itself upwards

so that is gonna be my go-to for our

luffa gourd so as you can see this pink

celery seed is extremely extremely small

so what I do is I come through and I

sprinkle so it just right on the surface

almost and then I'll come through and

apply a thin layer of seed starting mix

over the top and that's the way I cover

it I don't throw it down deep into holes

because it's gonna have to do way too

much work to actually get up out of the

soil it might not even be able to do it

so that's how I treat a very very small

seed I just wanted to show you guys

these seeds these are the jobs tears and

so you're growing them in effect kind of

for the seed itself so we're seeing a

little preview of what we're gonna see

in the future if I can get these to grow

correctly very big seed kind of has this

glassy look almost has the sound of like

hard candy so these are gonna go in

again trying to make them do as little

work as possible so putting what I think

is the sprouting tip up and then just

gently pressing down into my seed

starting mix and again we're gonna go

ahead and cover with and a little bit

more seed starting mix but making sure

to get these a little bit deeper alright

so now that I've got all of these seeds

in there I'm going to come through and

apply a tiny bit more as a topper and

this is just my way of making sure that

I've got the right seed depth so instead

of digging holes like I mean I did

definitely depress these a little bit

but I like to just add on top instead of

digging and then pulling in it's just to

me it's a bit more reliable it's also a

bit easier and just a nice smooth

process so I'm just coming through not

stressing about it too much and I will

give these a very light top water and

that's not necessarily to moisten the

soil per se but it is to get the soil to

adequately adhere to the seed so it's

not just floating

an air pocket and if it is you know then

it might not be getting the moisture

that it needs to germinate and so that's

why I do that it's not necessarily to

moisten it cuz remember we already

moistened it earlier on in the video so

we shouldn't have to worry about that

problem but a nice little quick water

helps form that soil

so the next topic to talk about and

probably the most important of all is

our lighting now it's the most important

because we have to remember how plants

view light they do not have highs they

don't see light like you and I they use

light to convert into energy to produce

and and run all the chemical processes

all the life processes that make them

grow and so for us we might look at a

light and say oh you know hmm I think

that's enough light for my plant plants

don't think that way so plants are

responding to the spectrum of light that

they can use for photosynthesis the

photosynthetically active radiation and

another thing that you think about is

you think okay well you know if my let's

say I have my light a foot away from my

plant canopy and then I move it two feet


well it's only gonna get half as much

light it's actually not true the inverse

square law of light basically says that

light falls off with the square of the

distance so if it's a foot away that's

getting a hundred percent of light you

move a two feet away it's getting 25% as

much light so placement is the thing

that causes leggy seedlings you really

can't get away with placing it in a

windowsill for too long it's just simply

not enough light and you can't get away

with placing it too far away so this is

relatively close and I've had good

results with about this distance which

is about a foot or so for the power of

these lights so these are 30 watt high

output LEDs they're white LEDs they're

putting out relatively full-spectrum

throughout the par range or the

photosynthetically active radiation

range but I would recommend if you don't

have a system like this which is from

Gardner Supply Company

you can get the agro bright t5 which has

a really really good cost to light

output ratio for plants and so I'd

recommend as a general rule of thumb for

spacing of light you basically want it

as close as humanly possible without

burning your plants because you get it

too close the heat output of the lamp is

actually going to harm the seedlings but

right above that point you're getting

maximum or as close to maximum light

output on the plant tissue as you can

without sacrificing the health of the

plant so in this video and see it's

starting we've talked about soil trays

different methods and especially

lighting and then what to do as far as

actually sowing the seed I know there's

a lot of questions you guys have that

are either after this part of the

process or maybe something I didn't

exactly cover in this video please leave

those in the comments so I can do a

series on seed starting to try to cover

all the different topics and all the

different questions you guys have and

one more thing if you'd like a free pack

of organic seeds

I'm sending those out to anyone who's

pre-ordering my book which is coming out

May 7 so it's coming up pretty soon I'm

really super stoked about it I talked

about all stuff like this in the book

it's 1/3 gardening basics practical

basic gardening principles for someone

like you awry to learn and then there's

six different methods in the book for

growing in urban environments so it's

gonna be container gardening raised beds

indoor edibles vertical balconies

rooftops and hydroponics then at the

last third of the book it's gonna be

growing problems so deficiencies you

know pests diseases and then what I call

gardener induced errors so like things

you and I do that we just make a mistake

in the garden that are really common so

if you want to preorder that please go

to epic gardening com forward slash book

and then follow the instructions there I

will send you some free organic seeds as

a way to say thank you and until next

time good luck in the garden keep

growing and I'll see you on the next one