Good seeds, well-prepared and nutrient-rich soil, light, humidity: the winning combination for a healthy growing environment and strong vigorous seedlings.

Sow the seed of success

When we speak of healthy seedlings, it all starts with the seed grain. Always opt for quality seeds. If you’re thinking of using left over seeds from last year, be sure the seeds were stored in a cool dry place, essential for proper germination. You’re the kind of person who likes to stock up on supplies? This year, don’t fall into the same trap. Buy smaller quantities instead and avoid the storage issue and uncertainty next year. Always check the expiry date on the seed packet: it’s a good indicator for the overall condition of the product.

Fertile soil

For seedlings to be successful, a healthy environment that discourages disease is essential. Soil that contains peat moss, vermiculite, and sand is able to retain humidity and is ideal for planting your seeds. The containers are also important. Opt for a seeding tray with dividers; if disease does occur, you’ll be able to contain it and minimize the damage. Do you plan to grow plants you won’t be able to pick out? Or start large grain seeds? Peat pellets and cups are both suitable. It’s a good idea to apply a fungicide before seeding, which prevents damping off.

Temperature and humidity: monitor carefully

Gardening goes hand in hand with heat and humidity. The same goes for seedlings. By covering the seed tray with a plastic dome, you can be sure that temperature and humidity remain elevated. During the germination period, the ideal temperature is somewhere between 21°C and 24°C for most vegetables. As soon as shoots appear, take the dome off. With the lid removed, your plants will need lots of light, good air circulation and temperatures between 20°C and 22°C during the day and 15 °C at night.

Seedlings: lights, set, action!

Light is the essential ingredient for your seedlings to grow healthy, strong and vigorous. Without enough light, you will produce leggy seedlings, which appear tall and floppy. Because your plants need 12 to 14 hours of abundant light per day, opt for artificial light such as fluorescent tubes, which you should place 10 to 15cm above your seedlings. Artificial indoor lighting has another advantage: you can start your seeds during the winter. It is also excellent for promoting growth and encouraging blooms, and you’ll be able to grow a much wider selection of plants. Fluorescent tubes are easy to install, space-saving and inexpensive.

Seed storage: zero humidity tolerance

Were you over-ambitious when you bought your seeds? Left over seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location to ensure proper germination next spring. To do this:

  1. Put your surplus seeds back in the appropriate packet and fold over the top several times. Seal the packet with adhesive tape.
  2. Put the seed packet in a jar. To help keep seeds dry, add to the jar a small packet of powdered milk, which is a good absorbent. Tip: you can cut off the corner of an envelope to make this packet.
  3. Put the jar in the fridge. Most seeds will last about three years.