How to Start Seed Indoors (Part 4 of 6): Sowing Your Seed Properly
By: Maureen Gilmer
The first step of any seed sowing project is to read the entire label of the seed packet. That tells you how deep to plant each kind of seed. Those that are usually started indoors range from 1/8 to 1/2 inch deep. This isn’t a guideline, it’s the hard fact that determines whether your seed will germinate or not.
Whether you sow into trays or directly into individual containers, make sure you use Black Gold Seedling Mix to provide a sterile environment. This is a soil-less mixture often called media. Set aside a spare container of dry media, then moisten the remaining material before filling your containers. Press it gently, but don’t pack down to make sure it remains porous enough to for oxygen and moisture exchange.
If you’re growing in a tray or box, use a stick or repurposed knitting needle to score rows in the media to the depth indicated on each seed packet. If you’re growing in individual pots, poke 3 seed holes at the same depth. Now it’s ready to receive seed.
There’s no challenge with large seeds because these are easy to sow with your fingers. The tiny ones can be a real challenge though. Some gardeners take a piece of scrap paper and fold it in half. Into the V at the bottom a small quantity of seeds may be placed, then the paper held folded. Tap the bottom and from the lower end of the fold will come the tiny seeds. They’ll drop precisely into your rows or pots, one at a time. Beware of planting too densely because this makes it tough to untangle the seedlings when time comes to transplant them.
Once sown, use the reserved dry media to cover the seeds. For deeper planted seed cover them with excavated material from the planting hole or row.
Once all seed is in ground and covered, gently press down the media so that there are few air gaps left around the seed.
When sowing is completed, be sure to seal all remaining seed inside its packet and store in a cool, dry place. If you have an unexpected problem, this back up seed is vital for replanting. Being able to refer back to the instructions in the packet can also come in handy later on.
Seed Sowing Depths for Popular Crops Started Indoors
Plant — Planting Depth
Basil — 1/4″
Beat — 1/2″
Broccoli — 1/4″
Chard — 1/2″
Eggplant — 1/4″
Lettuce — 1/8″
Pepper — 1/4″
Tomato — 1/4″