Starting a garden from seed is an economical approach. However, to ensure successful seed sowing, there are a number of mistakes to avoid.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Sowing Seeds
Here is our list of top 10 mistakes made when sowing seeds and growing them into seedlings.
1. Not using clean soil to plant seeds
A common approach is to plant seeds into garden soil, simply it is there. Our advice is never to use garden soil as it may have weed seeds and unwelcome pests. You will have far better chances of success if you use a good potting mix specifically formulated for growing seeds.
2. Keeping seeds too cool
Seeds require a certain amount of warmth to germinate. If the temperature is too cool, they will fail to germinate. Maintain the temperature between about 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 to 24 degrees Celsius.
3. Growing seeds in the wrong season
Sowing a summer seed in winter or a winter seed in summer may not yield the results you hope for. Starting seeds too early before they are ready for the temperature will cause them to be stressed out and become more susceptible to pests and diseases. As most plants are ready to go outside about 4 to 6 weeks after being started indoors, plan ahead for planting during the right season. Starting a tomato plant in winter isn’t the best idea. Spring would be a better time, then it will be ready to thrive in the summer heat.
Another common mistake is oversowing by planting too many seeds too closely together. Not only will the seedlings be competing with one another, it also makes it difficult to pick them out to space them apart later on. Successful seed sowing involves the right balance between spacing them too closely and spacing them too far apart (which means wasting valuable space in the pot).
Watering is probably the most challenging part about of seeds. It is important to keep the soil moist, so that the seeds do not dry out. At this stage, they are still delicate and will not tolerate drought. If the air is too dry, create a mini-greenhouse to keep soil moist: cover the container with a plastic film until the seeds germinate. Check the moisture level of the soil at least once a day.
Swinging to the other extreme, some overly enthusiastic beginners may over-water their seedlings causing them to sit in too much water and potentially drown. A good way to avoid this is to water from the bottom to enable the potting mix to soak up water from bottom up. It will also encourage seedlings to grow deeper roots.
7. Planting at the wrong depth
Always read the instructions on the seed packet carefully to ensure that you plant the seeds at the correct depth. Some seeds prefer to be planted at the surface with just a little bit of soil over them. Other seeds need to be planted at a certain depth of 1 to 2 cm below the surface. The difference between the 2 is that some seeds require light to germinate while other seeds need complete darkness to germinate.
8. Insufficient light
Some beginner gardeners, being concerned about how fragile their seedlings are, often err on the side of caution and place their seedlings out of harsh sunlight. Unfortunately, seedlings may sometimes end up with insufficient light as a result. If you find your seedlings growing towards a window or becoming too skinny, they probably do not have sufficient light. Move them closer to the window, or use lights specifically designed for plants.
9. Moving seedlings outdoors or planting into the ground too soon
Seedlings do need a certain amount of coddling in order to thrive. Moving them outdoors too soon or planting them into the ground too soon may result in them failing to thrive. You will have to go through the process of ‘hardening off’ your seedlings. This means moving them outside for short periods of time to allow them time to adjust to outdoor living conditions, and then gradually increase the time spent outdoors. After about 10 to 14 days, they should be completely adapted to conditions outdoors and are ready for planting.
10. Not labelling seedlings
Although not a fatal error, this is a rookie mistake that sometimes results in gardeners forgetting what they had planted and not recognising the seedlings. It will also be useful to note the day that they were sown.
With our top 10 common mistakes made when growing from seed in mind, we hope that you will experience successful seed sowing and will be able to grow plants economically from seed on a regular basis. Send us photos to let us know you go with growing seeds!