Tips and Tricks for Starting Seeds

Winter is on its last legs and it’s time to get ready for this year’s garden! If you’re in a zone with a shorter growing season or just want to stagger your crops for a richer harvest, check out these easy seed starting tricks. We already mentioned the first two in a post on frugal ways to start seeds, so check that post out for a more detailed description of how to do them:

  • Cut and fold paper tubes to use as a biodegradable seedling planter. Use the tubes from toilet paper, paper towels, or wrapping paper.
  • Start your seeds in compostable food waste such as egg shells or citrus rinds. Keep in mind the acidity of the soil when choosing one of these no-waste methods.
  • Save on seeds and grow new plants from cuttings. This works with basil, celery, onions, beets, and many more.
  • Place coffee filters in your seed trays and planters before filling with soil. This helps to keep soil from falling through holes in the vessel and makes removing the root ball for transplanting a breeze!
  • Test the germination rate and viability of saved seeds by sprouting them on a wet paper towel. Larger seeds can be soaked overnight, rinsed, and drained. Plant those that sprout immediately!
  • Save popsicle sticks to label seedlings. Unless you want a mystery garden, use these handy little markers!
  • Use spices as a natural antifungal to prevent damping off disease.  Cinnamon, turmeric, clove, and mustard applied at sowing and after every other watering will help your seedlings survive!
  • Give your seedlings a nitrogen boost with old coffee or tea. For acid-loving plants, you can water your plants almost every time with leftover coffee or tea. For other plants, just give them a drink once a month.
  • Thin your seedlings! So many people neglect to do this because it seems counterproductive to kill extra seedlings. Still, plant spacing is extremely important and your plants will be healthier with less competition from crowded neighbors. If you hate waste, simply rinse thinned seedlings and add them to a salad!



Most of us still have several more weeks before we can get in our gardens for a dirt therapy session. Start seeds indoors to get your gardening fix and get a head start on the season!

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