Indoor seed starting can be an intimidating activity because of all of the materials needed. I hope I’ve demystified seed starting by sharing this list of necessary items.
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I’ve purchased and used these products for years as part of my seed starting routine.
Although I didn’t list grow lights in this guide, I recommend fluorescent 32 watt – T8 shop lights and 48-inch ballasts as an economical choice. You’ll need two per shelf.
These plant markers are perfectly sized for seed starting cell packs. When I'm finished using them I can just throw them in the compost pile!
While my home-based seed starting system uses wall-mounted wire shelves, we use shelving units like this to start seeds for our community garden.
These units are really sturdy and long-lasting. I like how the shelf height is adjustable. We found that taking out one shelf allowed us to have 4 shelves with better spacing between the plants and the lights.
Several years ago when I started an indoor seedstarting operation for the first time, I wasn't sure exactly what materials I would need.
Buying this kit helped me get off on the right foot. The seed starter trays from the kit are 5 years old and I still use them!
I like to use these little clip fans, one on each seed starting shelf. It keeps the air moving which prevents damping off, a fungal disease. The moving air also helps seedlings to develop strong stalks.
This is another dependable seedstarting mix that I've used and had success with. It's an eco-friendly option because it's derived from a renewable resource.
Because the coconut coir is condensed into a "brick" form and is lightweight, it is an economical purchase. The brick decompresses when water is added.
I first got this fertilizer years ago as part of the All-in-One Seedstarting Kit. It worked so well that I've continued to use it every year.
This fertilizer is great for both seedlings and outdoor plants alike. One tablespoon per gallon of water is all it takes.
Seedstarting mix is free of nutrents, so once indoor seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, you'll want to begin using the fertilzer in the regular watering schedule.
Outdoors, I use the same dilution to fertilize my garden plants about once a month. This brand is high-quality.
A tub of this size allows me to start seeds efficiently. I simply pour my seed starting mix into the tub and mix with water before filling cell packs.
Plastic germination domes make germination a snap. They hold in moisture and warmth, encouraging faster germination. And because they're clear, you can see when your seeds have germinated.
Be sure to open them once a day or so to let out some moisture, and remove them as soon as germination has occurred.
I like to use these standard-sized growing trays to keep cell packs organized. They make it easy to water seedlings. They also make it easy to rotate groups of seedlings around.
I like to rotate trays of seedlings so that they experience air movement and light from different angles.
Since my indoor seed starting operation takes over our mudroom each spring, I've had to keep the mudroom super-organized.
This boot tray keeps the floor clear and shoes organized. But the tray also accommodates potted plants! Watering them in the tray is a cinch.
If your seed starting operation is not near windows where the seedlings can receive ambient light, it's a good idea to add reflective film to increase the amount of light available from your grow lights.
I use alumunum foil. The only difference is that Mylar is more durable and longer-lasting.
I like to start my seedlings off on a chemical-free note, and this was the first seedstarting mix I started with when I began indoor seedstarting several years ago.
It's been dependable and served me well. I've used other seedstarting mixes, too, but this organic option means I can worry less about what's in it.
I have some wooden plant markers, but I also like these for seedstarting because they're reusable.
These pots are a good general size to suit most of your tranplanting needs. When seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, they'll need to be transplanted out of their cell packs into these larger pots to accommodate the seedlings' growing root systems.
Once your seedlings have two sets of true leaves, you'll want to transplant out of the cell packs and into their own pots. You'll want to use potting soil for this procedure, and this is my favorite brand.
I also use this potting soil for container gardens and flower pots.
Having a power strip with a timer will save in energy costs. As long as there is ambient light from nearby windows, it's not necessary to run your seed starting lights 24-hours a day.
Instead, plug the lights into the power strip and time them to run for about 15 hours, mimicking sunrise and sunset times of the summer solstice in your region.
Cell packs make it easy to grow just the right amount of seedlings for your garden.
While high-volume farming operations may have a different system, I've found that for my small-scale needs, cell packs are the most efficient solution, and will reduce the number of seeds you need.
My little seed room is a tiny, closet-sized, enclosed room. For that reason, I have a small space heater turned on low to keep the space warm.
My seed trays sit on bricks, which absorb the heat from the space heater and act like a heat mat.
Heat mats are definitely a more economical option, especially if your seed starting setup is in a larger room.
This dependable heat mat allows you to only heat the seedlings that need supplemental heat, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
A temperature and humidity monitor is really helpful. It will register your high and low temperatures of the room. Seedlings in general will do well around 67 degrees, give or take a few degrees.
It will also monitor the humidity level of the room. Seedlings will do best between 50% and 70% humidity.
Indoor air tends to be dry during cooler months, so misting the air (not the seedlings) can increase humidity levels without encouraging fungal disease.