Review of the best seed starting methods
This time of year we are all looking for a way to start seeds that is both easy and inexpensive. I have my favorites. However, I see lots of different methods on the internet so I decided to check them out. Here is my review of the best seed starting methods.
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The mesh discs or pucks for seed starting.
These are the little round mess covered discs. You can find them in most garden shops and big-box stores. The discs are solid and expand when they get wet. Most are filled with compressed peat, coir, or a combination.
The cost. $$$
Little pucks typically come in multi-packs of 10 or more. Also, they can come in a seed tray. The average cost per disc is around $1.
I feel they are expensive. If you are doing any larger volume, say 50 plants, it can cost you an additional $50 to start your garden.
You place the seed on the top of the puck then water. Discs will expand, covering the seed. As the seedlings grow, the puck will expand giving the roots room. When the seedlings develop you plant the whole thing in the garden or container. The mesh will breakdown allowing the plant to grow naturally.
Good or bad?
I don’t like these at all. They are expensive and most importantly they don’t really break down in the soil. These can cause root issues and even death to your plants.
Garden Myths did a great article on the problems with this system.
Using eggs to starting seeds
You can use eggshells to start your seed. I have seen this method so many places on the web I had to give it a try.
The cost: Free
Eggshells are free if eat eggs. Plus using them is a great way to recycle.
Crack the top of the eggshells and empty the egg out. Give the shells a quick rinse. Poke a small hole in the bottom of the egg. Place your favorite seed mixture in the shell and plant your seed. Water lightly. The shell will keep moisture in. Seedlings have enough room to grow. When they are ready to be planted in the garden or containers simply give the eggshell a little squeeze, cracking it up. The shell will add nutrients to the soil. Since they break up easily the shell will not inhibit plant growth.
Good or bad?
I love this method of starting seeds. It is easy, convenient and free. As a double bonus, you are recycling and giving your plants nutrients
The pressed peat pots
These little pots come in many different shapes and sizes. You can get them as individual pots or as seed trays.
The cost $
It is hard to say the real cost of these because they come in so many different shapes and sizes. However, you can figure about 25 cents a pot.
Pressed peat pots allow you to use your favorite seed starting mixture. Since they come in so many varieties you can find one that fits your space and seedlings needs. The pots soften up as they get wet. When the seedlings are ready to be planted you can place the pot right in the ground or container without disturbing the roots. The pot will break up in the soil allowing the roots to continue to grow.
Good or bad?
I find these somewhat useful however I seldom use them. The biggest problem I have found with them is that the pot doesn’t really break down. I always cut the sides apart before planting. Cut the sides enough to let the roots grow through but still allowing the roots minimum disruption.
Overall they are not too expensive, they are convenient and the one problem is easy to deal with.
Newspaper seed pots
Follow this video for easy newspaper seed pots. Places like Burpee seeds actually sell a tool for making them.
The cost: Free
Newspaper pots are free and they a great way to recycle old newspapers.
These little pots are super easy to make. You can size them fit whatever you need. Fill the pots with seed mixture, plant your seeds and water. When the seedlings are ready to be planted place the pot into the garden or container. The newspaper will quickly breakdown giving your plant’s roots room to grow.
Good or bad?
I have mixed feelings about these. They are easy to make. Even a fun project for kids. Plus free and recycling are my two favorite things! However, I found that seedling need lots of extra watering. I find that the newspaper draws the moisture from the soil. The seedlings needed watering twice are often as other methods.
Rockwool as seed starter
If you are a gardener that does both soil and hydroponics then Rockwool could be a good choice.
The cost: $$
You can purchase a sheet of 25 cubes that are sold for around $15.
The cubes need to be moist, then place a seed in the hole provided. The rock wool will support the seedlings as they grow. When they are ready, you can plant the Rockwool directly in the soil or put them in your hydroponic system. The rock wool will break up over time in soil and it will allow free plant root growth.
Good or bad?
Since I am a gardener that does both soil and hydroponics, these little squares are very useful. I can plant all the seeds and grow them through seedlings at the same time. When they are ready to plant I can then decide if they are going into the soil or hydroponic garden. If you are not a mix medium gardener then these may no be with the money.
I have not reviewed the plastic seedling containers or other methods that require you to remove the seedlings from the container. It is best to choose a method that does not disturb the roots.
Things that are important when starting seeds regardless of which pots you use
Make sure that the seeds are warm.
Place a heating mat under the seedling container. The mat will gently warm the soil and keep the seeds warm.
Keep your seed moist.
Put a plastic cover or tent over the seed tray to hold in the moisture. You can use a seed tray cover. If you don’t have one you can use a homemade one.
Take a clear wrap and cover your tray. Use a glass to tent the clear wrap giving your plants room to grow. Put a small vent hole to keep some air circulation around your seedlings.
Before you decide what seeds to buy please read Seeds: hybrid, organic, GMO. It will help you choose the right seed type for your needs.
If you are interested in learning how to create your own indoor aquaponic garden please check out my new book. Thank You