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The magic of seed starting

For the longest time, it seemed, I was unsuccessful at starting seeds. But was it a year or two? I turned it into an ongoing saga in my mind but it might have been short. Because I’ve grown plants from seeds during the past 16 years. At this point, I think I can claim success.

The problem is that I still start seeds like my success rate approaches zero instead of 100 percent. And as a result, I wind up with more plants than I can care for well.

So this year, I am going to assume 95 percent germination and plant accordingly. I have the accoutrements: grow lights, bottom heat pads, mini plastic pots, sterile seed starting mix, plant labels, heavy-duty plant trays, and clean pots for potting up.

My big success story last year is that I labeled everything. I plan to keep that up.

I also am going to trust that I don’t need an extra month to get warm-season crops started. This year I will start with cool-season crops, greens, cilantro, and snow peas, and wait until March to start peppers and tomatoes. And I won’t start 40 plants. Yes, they are cute when they are small but less so when you are running out of places to put them or trying to scrounge up enough plant supports.

In minimalism and organization circles, there’s a containerization concept that you can use to limit the amount of something to fit the container you have for it: a drawer, a closet, a bin, a shelf, etc. I have a set number of containers that I’m working with and that will guide my planning and planting.

I can easily accommodate and care for two growing flats at one time knowing that those 2-inch pots need to move into 4-inch pots in fairly short order quickly multiplying the flats and the growing space needed.

Here’s my seed starting plan for this year. I admit that the February plantings might get in under the wire. Thank goodness for the extra day!


  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Cilantro
  • Peas
  • Potatoes (I use grow bags and last year I realized I could have started them earlier)


  • More Lettuce and Kale
  • Sugar Rush Peach Peppers
  • Ground Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Plant Dahlia Tubers


  • More Lettuce and Kale
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Lemon Cucumbers

After some unbelievable success with dahlia tubers, I am also going to give dahlias from seeds a try.


Photo by Adrian Swancar on Unsplash