- How to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors
- How to Start Seeds Indoors. Growing Your Own Vegetables.
- Starting Seeds Indoors
- HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LED LIGHTS
- Easiest Vegetables to Grow from Seed.
- 10 Steps to Starting Seedlings Indoors
- Step 1: Set up a lighted seed starting area:
- Step 2: Gather growing containers to start your seedling:
- Step 3: Prepare your seed starting soil:
- Step 4: Sow your seeds:
- Step 5: Keep soil moist but not soggy:
- Step 6: Begin fertilizing the seedlings once true leaves sprout:
- Step 7: Thin the plants so the strongest survive:
- Step 8: Pot up the seedlings to larger containers:
- Step 9: Adapt your seedlings to outdoors:
- Step 10: Transplant your seedlings to the garden:
- Get Your Seedlings Off to a Great Start:
- Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden.
- Why Are My Seedlings Leggy? What Causes Leggy Seedlings And How To Prevent It
- What Causes Leggy Seedlings?
- How to Prevent Leggy Seedlings
- What To Do With Leggy Seedlings
How to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors
Purchase your seeds from a trusted source. Fresher, higher quality seeds will have a higher germination rate (meaning more will sprout), and will give you a head-start in growing delicious, nutritious vegetables. (Check out Landreth Seed, our line of heritage and heirloom vegetable seeds!)
Pot with seed-starting mix. These mixes don’t contain any actual soil, but they provide ideal conditions for sprouting seeds. Most importantly, they provide a good balance of drainage and water-holding capacity, and they minimize problems with disease on vulnerable seedlings. If possible, don’t use garden soil to start seeds indoors; it generally doesn’t drain well and may contain plant disease spores.
Make sure your containers have drainage holes. You can use recycled pots — for example, empty yogurt containers — but be sure to poke holes in the bottom for draining, so that your seeds are not over-watered. Plastic six-packs and flats are good choices and can be reused year after year. Biodegradable pots are fine, too.
Plant seeds at the proper depth. Check the seed packet for planting depth. You don’t need to measure precisely, but be careful not to plant any deeper than the directions suggest. The rule of thumb is to plant the seed two-to-three times as deep as the seed is wide. For example, tiny seeds should be barely covered by soil mix, while large seeds like beans should be sown about an inch deep. If you sow seeds too deeply, they won’t have enough stored energy to make it to the surface. Plant extra seeds, because it’s likely not all of them will germinate; you’ll thin out the extra ones later.
After sowing, set the containers in a warm location. On top of the refrigerator or near a radiator are usually good spots. Check your pots every day for signs of growth!
Keep seed-starting mix moist. Seedling roots need both air and water. Strive to keep the mix moist but not saturated with water — think of it as a damp sponge that contains both water and air.
As soon as seedlings emerge, place pots in a bright location. A sunny window will do, but adding consistent light from supplemental fluorescent lights will give you the best results. Suspend the lights just an inch or two over the tops of the plants.
Cool room temperature is best for seedlings. You’ll get sturdier, stockier seedlings if you grow them at temperatures in the high 60s. Finding a cooler room in your house or garage, while still maintaining a good light sorce, will help them thrive. At higher temperatures, seedlings may get leggy.
Begin fertilizing weekly. Use a half-strength fertilizer once your seedlings have one or two sets of leaves. Organic fertilizers are a good choice, since they provide a range of nutrients, including micronutrients.
Once seedlings have two sets of leaves, it’s time to thin. You want one seedling per pot, so choose the healthiest, strongest-looking seedling to keep. Snip the other seedlings off at the soil line and discard them.
Are you looking for unique, heirloom vegetables known for generations of successful growth? Check out Landreth Seeds, Scrupulously Selected Since 1784! You’ll find more than 100 vegetable varieties to try in your garden this year.
Shop Vegetable Seeds
How to Start Seeds Indoors. Growing Your Own Vegetables.
Want to know how to grow vegetables from seed? Well. It’s very complicated. You stick them in dirt and wait. Add in these few more tips and you’re sure to have success starting seeds indoors.
Skip right to the instructions.
If you have kids that don’t like vegetables I’ll tell you right now, the easiest way to get them to eat veggies, is to have them grow them themselves. I say this with all the confidence of someone who doesn’t have kids.
I was, however, a child myself at one point. That’s how I know this little method works.
My dad always had a vegetable garden. The goal of course was to grow the biggest vegetables possible. Like most men, he thought bigger was better. If a carrot wasn’t the size of a table leg it was a failure.
As is the case with a lot of kids who grow up around vegetable gardens, I wanted my own vegetables to plant. So my dad gave me some seeds for the fasting growing vegetable around. The radish. Not exactly the jelly beans I had imagined growing, but I gave it a shot. I grew those radishes and I ate them too. I can guarantee that if I hadn’t grown them myself I never would have sat down to eat a plate of radishes.
I still love radishes.
If you live in a colder climate like I do in Southern Ontario (Zone 6), where the growing season is a bit shorter than elsewhere, you have to get a head start on your plants. This can either mean, buying pregrown plants at a nursery or … starting your own from seed at home. The advantage to starting them at home is you can grow varieties of vegetables you just can’t get in a nursery.
Things like these warty Reisetomate tomatoes.
If you’re going BIG and growing a lot of plants, the best thing for you to invest in is a drip tray, seedling tray and lid. You can get these at seed stores and usually hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot. I wouldn’t buy them from a dollar store. You’ll want to reuse them year after year and the dollar store ones tend to disintegrate and fall apart when you look at them.
If you’re interested in starting seeds you might like to, join my “Sow Generous” program this summer. Starting a “Grow & Give Garden”. A group of people that commit to growing a vegetable garden this year and then giving some of the produce away. 🙂 You can learn more about it here.
Starting Seeds Indoors
Soiless Mix (sterile mix for starting seeds)
Seed Starting Tray (multi holed tray made for starting many seeds)
Drip Tray (catches drips and dirt from seed starting tray)
Clear Cover (holds in much needed moisture when starting seeds)
LED Grow lights
Heat Mat (optional but VERY helpful as it improves germination rate and speed of germination)
If you don’t want to spend the money on or can’t find the seed tray and drip tray, all you need are a few plastic pots or even plastic cups with holes punched into the bottom and some plastic wrap.
If you want to get everything in one shot, I’ve compiled a list of everything you need on Amazon complete with 13 various seeds, a seed starting tray, heat mat, soil and plant markers, all for a total of just $77 which is a great deal! Just click here to see my Amazon Seed Starting Shop. You can also add in a full spectrum grow light for another $29.
When you’re ready, this post has all the information you need about the next step, replanting your seedlings.
Soilless mix has no nutrients and is only used for starting seedlings, not growing them.
Instructions to Start Seeds
1. Soak the soilless mix with water.
Before you fill your containers with the soiless mix, add enough water to moisten it and mix it with your hands. Squeeze out the water. The perfect ratio of water to soil is when you squeeze your soil very hard and a few drips of water come out of it. If it streams out, your soil is too wet. If nothing comes out your soil is too dry.
2. Fill your tray with the seed starter mix.
Plant roots like a compact soil. It helps to give the plant stability. So, push the dirt into each divot with your finger so it isn’t quite so “airy”. You may need to refill the tray with more soil after you compress it.
3. Now it’s time to plant your seeds!
I’m going with parsley here
Put two or three seeds in each cell. This way you’re guaranteed at least one plant will germinate.
If they all grow, just weed out the runts by cutting the stem off at soil level. Don’t pull it out, because this will disturb the soil of the other seedlings.
4. Cover the seeds up with soil.
A good rule of thumb is to cover the seed with the same depth of soil as the seed.
(A 1 mm seed will be covered with 1mm of dirt) Also, once you’ve covered them, press down on the soil with your finger to make sure the top soil is touching the seed. Seeds need to be in contact with all the soil around them to germinate well.
For especially tiny seeds like poppies or snapdragons use sand to cover the seeds. It’s finer than soil and will help keep moisture in.
5. Cover your seed tray with a plastic dome.
The dome helps create heat and the necessary humidity for the seeds to germinate. As soon as your seeds sprout, you can remove the lid.
If you don’t have a dome or are planting into plastic cups or pots just cover the pot with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band.
**If you have a heated seed mat (propagation mat) then place your tray on the mat. The bottom heat on the soil will improve and speed up germination immensely. I HIGHLY recommend getting a seed starting mat.**
6. Once your seeds have sprouted put them under fluorescent lights.
I use T5 LED lights right now. They offer better light and last longer than traditional fluorescent lights. I personally have a 3 tiered seed starting stand.
If I were starting from scratch I’d probably get these flat panel LED lights and build wood shelves, but the tiered grow light stands I use now are great too.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LED LIGHTS
To grow most things 32 watts per square ft. of plants is MORE than enough.
For instance, if you have a 2′ x 2′ of plants, that equals 4 square feet which means you would need 120 watts of LED lights for growing. And like I said that’s MORE than enough. That would allow you to grow actual vegetables and flowers as opposed to just seedlings.
LED Grow light Recommendations
Once the seeds have sprouted, keep the tray under the lights.
TIP – LED lights should be 8-12 inches from the top of your plants. T5 bulbs should be 5-6 inches from the tops of your plants.
If you don’t have grow lights, just put your tray in a sunny window but make sure to rotate the plant so it isn’t always reaching the same way for the light..
Finally, you have to water these things. I’m fairly certain if you can recognize most of the words in this post, you’re smart enough to realize you have to water plants.
7. Water your plants by putting water into the drip tray and allow the plants to soak up the water for 10 minutes.
8. As your plants grow adjust the height of your lights. The height will depend on the type of light. Check your light instructions.
And that’s really all there is to starting your own plants from seed. This is a very rudimentary introduction to growing plants from seed, but there should be enough information to get you started and stop you from being scared of it.
Easiest Vegetables to Grow from Seed.
Beets – these seeds are actually a cluster of seeds so for every seed you plant you could get 2-3 plants.
Peas – they can be planted directly outside in April because they like the cold but starting them inside helps improve germination and stops squirrels and mice from eating the seeds before they get a chance to start.
Squash – both winter and summer squash grow well from seed.
Tomatoes – the star of every garden, tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to start from seed.
Herbs – basil, parsley, dill, oregano, … all are great seeds to start.
Kale – I actually only like one variety of kale, Black Kale, and I grow it successfully from seed every year.
$5 to the first person who can grow a carrot big enough to support a harvest table.
Click below to take the Sow Generous pledge.
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Growing your own seedlings from seed offers you more flexibly and control over your garden. You can choose your favorite varieties, grow the number of plants you need, and work within the planting dates that suit your growing area.
Growing your own seedlings offers a number of benefits:
- It is less expensive than purchasing nursery seedlings.
- There is a greater selection of seeds available in comparison to the standard plant varieties at most nurseries.
- It provides a little gardening therapy during the winter months when the ground is under a layer of snow.
A key to any successful garden is planning. The first step is to decide what you want to grow and make a seed list. Then it is helpful to plot out your garden beds so you have an idea on how many transplants you will need to grow. Developing a seed-starting schedule ahead of time will provide a guideline so you know when to start your seeds. You can read more about each process at the links below:
- How to Choose Which Vegetables to Grow
- Tips for Making a Seed List
- How to Map Your Garden Beds
- How to Develop a Seed Starting and Planting Schedule
Once you are organized, here are ten steps to starting seedlings indoors:
10 Steps to Starting Seedlings Indoors
Step 1: Set up a lighted seed starting area:
In order to grow healthy seedlings, you will need some supplemental lighting. Seedlings need at least 12-16 hours of light each day. I set my timer on my lights for 16 hours on, then 8 hours off. Keep the lights about 2-inches above the seedlings. Adjust as the plants grow. See How to Assemble a Grow Light Shelving System.
Step 2: Gather growing containers to start your seedling:
These can be seed-starting flats, peat pots, toilet paper rolls, newspaper pot, or any recycled container with a few drainage holes poked into the bottom. You can omit growing containers all together by using a soil block maker to compress the soil into a cube. Whatever container you choose, wash them with warm soapy water and rinse well. Place them in leak proof trays or containers to prevent water from dripping. Read more about the benefits of using Soil Blocks for Growing Seedlings.
Step 3: Prepare your seed starting soil:
Use new seed starting mix that’s made for growing seedlings. Using soil from your garden or re-use potting soil from your houseplants can introduce disease to your young and vulnerable seedlings. Starting with fresh, sterile, seed starting mix will help ensure healthy seedlings.
Pre-moisten the seed starting mix before filling your containers. Use a clean bucket or bowl and mix a little warm water into the seed starting soil. You will want the soil mix slightly damp, but not soaking wet. Fill your containers with pre-moistened seed starting mix to within 1/2-inch of the top of the container. Press gently to remove any air pockets.
Step 4: Sow your seeds:
Check the seed packet instructions to see how deep to sow your seeds. Poke holes into the soil in the center of your containers and sprinkle 2 or 3 seeds. Cover the seeds with soil, press down gently so the seed makes contact with the soil, and mist the soil surface with water. Label the containers with the seed variety and sowing date. Cover the containers with a humidity dome to keep in moisture.
Alternatively, you could pre-sprout your seeds and actually SEE the seeds sprout before planting into your containers. See the Benefits of Pre-sprouting Seeds.
Most seeds need temperatures of 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) to germinate. Place the trays in a warm location near a heat source, on top of a refrigerator, or use a seedling heat mat.
Check your seed trays daily for germination, mist with water if the soil surface has dried out, and wait for seeds to emerge from the soil. Once the seeds sprout, remove the humidity dome and place the trays under lights. Keep the lights within 2-inches of the tops of seedlings.
Step 5: Keep soil moist but not soggy:
Use a mister or turkey baster to water the young plants when needed. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Too much water will encourage mold. As the seedlings grow and the roots begin to grow into the soil, water the plants from underneath by adding water to the leak proof tray or setting the containers in a tray of water so the roots can draw in moisture. Don’t allow the soil to become waterlogged or the seedlings will drown. Once the seedlings become established, let the soil dry slightly between watering.
Step 6: Begin fertilizing the seedlings once true leaves sprout:
Most seed starting mixes do not contain any nutrients. When seeds first sprout, they are able to acquire nutrients from the seed’s endosperm. Once the second set of leaves form, also referred to the plants “true leaves” it is time to begin fertilizing your seedlings. Begin a fertilizing regimen using half-strength, organic liquid fertilizer such as liquid fish fertilizer or worm casting tea. Each brand is different; follow the instructions on the label for best results.
Step 7: Thin the plants so the strongest survive:
Ideally, each container should have only one seedling in order for it to grow strong and healthy. Thinning involves selecting the strongest plant and removing the extras. The easiest way to do this and with the least amount of root disturbance is to snip the unwanted seedlings at the soil line. You can also try to transplant the extras into separate pots, but you risk damaging the roots and stunting growth. This is another reason why I like to pre-sprout seeds. Then I only plant the seeds that sprout one per soil block or container…No thinning required.
Step 8: Pot up the seedlings to larger containers:
Some seedlings will outgrow their pots before it is time to transplant them outdoors. These plants will require larger containers, so they can continue to grow at a healthy pace. Once the roots fill the container, or you find that you need to water the plants constantly, it is time to repot the transplants into larger containers. I like to use 16 oz. plastic drinking cups with some holes poked in the bottom. These are washed and re-used for many years.
Water the seedlings well before transplanting. This will help contain the soil around the roots and reduce transplant shock. Use a good quality organic potting mix and pre-moisten before filling your containers just as you did with the seed starting mix above.
Fill your containers part way with the moistened potting mix leaving enough room for the seedling’s root ball to sit about 1/2-inch below the rim of the new container. (Exception: If you are transplanting tomatoes, try to bury as much of the stem as you can. Unlike other plants, tomatoes will grow extra roots along the portion of the stem below the soil.).
Remove the seedling gently from its original container by squeezing the sides of the container and inverting it while holding your hand over the soil so the base of the plant is between the index and middle fingers. Tap the bottom of the container several times and the root ball should slide out of the container. Try not to mangle the roots or pull from the stem.
Gently center the seedling the new container, fill in the sides with potting mix, and tamp it in lightly until you have filled the gaps. Be sure to leave about 1/2-inch below the rim of the new container to accommodate watering. Water the repotted transplant well, and then allow the soil surface to dry out before watering again. Label your container and return the plant to the lighting shelf.
Step 9: Adapt your seedlings to outdoors:
Several weeks before transplanting your seedlings to the garden, begin to harden off your seedlings to outdoor conditions. Hardening off is the process of adapting plants to the outside, so they can get used to sunlight, wind, rain, cool nights, and less frequent watering and fertilizing. The hardening off period allows your seedling to transition from the comfortable growing conditions under lights to the normal conditions they will experience in the garden. Learn more about How to Harden Off Your Seedlings Before Planting.
Step 10: Transplant your seedlings to the garden:
After your seedlings are hardened off, they are ready to be transplanted into their permanent location in the garden. Prepare your garden beds ahead of time. If the weather has been dry, water the bed thoroughly the day before you plant. Choose a cloudy day with no wind and transplant in the late afternoon or evening to give your plants time to adjust without the additional challenge of the sun. Water the seedlings well after planting.
Get Your Seedlings Off to a Great Start:
Pamper your newly transplanted seedlings in the beginning until they adjust to their new environment. Shade them from the hot sun and wind for the first few days and keep them well watered until the plants begin to sprout new leaves.
Mulch the seedlings to help hold in soil moisture. Keep mulch a few inches away from the stems so it doesn’t smother the plants. Learn more about How to Use Mulch in Your Vegetable Garden.
You May Also Like:
- How to Build a Square Foot Garden
- 8 Easiest Vegetables to Grow
- 7 Time Saving Tips for Vegetable Gardeners
- Troubleshooting Seed Starting Problems
Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden.
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.
Why Are My Seedlings Leggy? What Causes Leggy Seedlings And How To Prevent It
Seed starting is an exciting time for many gardeners. It seems almost magical to place a tiny seed into some soil and watch a small seedling emerge just a short time later, but sometimes things can go wrong.
We watch with excitement as the seedlings grow taller, only to realize that they have grown too tall and are now a bit floppy. This is known as leggy seedlings. If you are wondering what causes leggy seedlings, and more importantly, how to prevent leggy seedlings, keep reading.
What Causes Leggy Seedlings?
At the most basic level, leggy seedlings are caused by a lack of light. It could be that the window you are growing your seedlings in does not provide enough light or it could be that the lights you are using as grow lights aren’t close enough to the seedling. Either way, the seedlings will get leggy.
This happens due to the natural reaction of plants to light. Plants will always grow towards a light. Leggy seedlings happen for the same reason crooked houseplants happen. The plant grows towards the light and, since the light is too far away, the plant tries to accelerate its height to get close enough to the light to survive. Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of growth a plant can do. What it gains in height, it sacrifices in the width of the stem. As a result, you get long, floppy seedlings.
Leggy seedlings are a problem for many reasons. First, seedlings that are too tall will have problems when they are moved outdoors. Because they are thin and floppy, they can’t stand up as well to natural occurrences like wind and hard rain. Second, floppy seedlings have a hard time growing up to be strong plants. Third, seedlings that are falling over can be more prone to disease and pests.
How to Prevent Leggy Seedlings
As you might have guessed by now, the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure the seedlings are getting enough light.
If you are growing seedlings in a window, try to grow them in a south-facing window. This will give you the best light from the sun. If a south-facing window isn’t available, you may want to consider supplementing the light the seedlings are getting from the window with a small fluorescent bulb placed within a few inches of the seedlings.
If you are growing your seedlings under lights (either a grow light or a fluorescent light), the best way to prevent leggy seedlings is to make sure that the lights are close enough to the seedlings. The lights should remain just a few inches above the seedlings as long as you have them indoors or your seedlings will get too tall. Many gardeners put their lights on adjustable chains or strings so that the lights can be moved upwards as the seedlings get taller.
You can also force seedlings that are too tall to grow thicker by brushing your hands over them a few times a day or placing an oscillating fan to blow gently on them for a few hours every day. This tricks the plant into thinking that it is growing in a windy environment and releases chemicals in the plant to grow thicker stems to be better able to withstand the supposed windy environment. This should not replace providing more light, but can help prevent leggy seedlings in the first place.
What To Do With Leggy Seedlings
At this time of year we get frequent calls from people who have started seeds inside and find that they’ve gotten too “leggy.” This is most common for those who are growing seedlings on a windowsill where the light might be strong but not as direct or constant as you’d find in a greenhouse. The problem is, of course, that once the seedlings get lean and spindly they are more likely to be damaged when planted outside. Here are some of the reasons that seedlings get leggy, and what you can do if this has happened to you.
- Seedlings grow leggy when they are reaching for the light. Be sure to grow your plants in as much light as possible. If you’re growing under artificial lights such as fluorescent or the long, tube gro-lights, position the bulbs only about 3″ from the tops of the plants. Most people rig up a system where the lights can be raised as the seedlings grow.
- Seedlings also grow leggy when they are started too early. Be sure to use the end of May as the time when most summer plants can be placed outside and work backwards from there, using the germination times on the seed packets. So for plants such as zinnias, for example, that germinate and grow quickly, they shouldn’t be started before the end of April.
- Once seedlings get too long and leggy many wonder if they can sink the stems lower in the soil once the plants are put outside. This works for tomato plants but most others can’t be sunk into the ground in that way. Instead, use the methods below to help strengthen the plants.
- Don’t over-fertilize! Many people mistakenly believe that fertilizer will make plants stronger. In reality, fertilizers make plants grow larger and faster but they don’t help the plants to become sturdy. Keep synthetic fertilizer to a minimum until the plants are growing outdoors.
- Environmental “stresses” such as wind stimulate hormones in plants that signal the roots and stems to grow strong. So putting a small fan next to your seedlings on a timer so that the plants are blown in the breeze for a couple of hours a day will help strengthen leggy plants. Gently passing your hand over the tops of seedlings a few times every day will also stimulate stronger growth.
- When it’s time to move the plants outside introduce them to the “real world” gradually. Don’t put tender plants out into the direct sun – either place them in mostly shade (the dappled sun through trees is good) for a few days or put them outside during a stretch of cloudy weather. If the weather turns stormy, pull those plants inside until heavy rains and high winds pass.
- Most leggy plants become sturdier once they are growing outside.
Sometimes people are tempted to fertilize tiny tomato seedlings in order to hurry their growth in the spring. Don’t do this too early or you’ll end up with taller, weaker plants before it’s time to plant them outside. Tomatoes shouldn’t be planted outdoors until the night time temperatures are reliably above 50 degrees.
These broccoli seedlings are short and strong because they have been raised in a greenhouse where there is lots of light. Seedlings are more apt to become leggy when the light isn’t strong enough. If your windows don’t get full sun, consider starting your seedlings under lights that are placed about 3″ from the tops of your plants. (Note: high-powered grow lights that get hot can be further from seedlings, but fluorescent tubes, regular or full spectrum, should be close to the plants.)
Sorry, Neellan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the room only looks bright to your eyes. In order for the seedlings to get enough light, that utility room would need to have a large (at least 1/2 m larger than the flat they are in) window, which faces east, south, or west. The window should not have more than 1/2 m of overhang, eaves, or awning shading it. There also should not be shade trees or buildings blocking the direct sun from the window. The seedlings should be smack in the window, not on the shelf 3 m away.
In short, sun, sun, and more sun–the seedlings need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, almost every day, from the hour they emerge, to keep from stretching out and flopping. An hour or two outside when the weather cooperates just doesn’t cut it. Failing ample sun, keep a full spectrum fluorescent tube or two shining on them for at least 12 hours a day, no more than 1/3 m away from the seedling tops.
Once they flop, it is difficult, if not impossible, to bring them back. Maybe one out of ten can turn its head up, thicken its hair-thin stem up, spread its leaves, and grow normally. Usually, it’s better to start over again with new seeds.
Drat, having to bear bad news again!
Question: I have bought a large bag of “Miracle Gro” multipurpose compost as well as a bag of B&Q own, only to find both are no longer suitable for sowing small seeds. But I have just tried it covering them with sifted matter. Not very successful and now even small weeds are appearing. What do you think of multipurpose compost?
Answer: Multipurpose compost has a wide range of tasks to perform and to be fair, it’s a challenge to be able to offer multipurpose as good compost for seed sowing as well as potting on young plants and growing patio plants in containers for summer.
For best results, germinating seeds need to be well-drained, so the compost should contain up to one third sand or perlite. One of the constituents of multipurpose compost can be recycled landscape waste which is quite rich for germinating seeds and also can contain those unwelcome lumps.
It is best to buy a specific seed and cuttings compost. You can cover small seeds with a thin layer of sieved compost or use vermiculite, which lets light through to seeds and drains well.
The manufacturers may be able to tell you more about their reasons if the recommended uses for their particular products have changed.
Weeds in multipurpose compost are unusual because in manufacture, green waste is heated to high temperatures that kill any lurking weed seeds. After some weeks, compost would, however, collect opportunistic windblown seed.
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Only a few questions per month can be answered. For further advice on handling problems in your garden, visit www.rhs.org.uk/advice/index.asp.
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