The 3 common seed starting mistakes

the 3 common seed starting mistakes. So we’re all starting seeds, some of us have been starting seeds. And the questions are starting to come in. What’s going on with my seedlings? What did I do wrong? And so we put together this podcast of the three common mistakes we’re seeing with seed starting and what to do for those mistakes. So check out this podcast, let us know what you think in a review.

So we are excited to be talking about something that we can’t get enough of. And that is seed starting! People are asking us like crazy. How do we start seeds? What am I doing wrong? And so today, we wanted to talk about the top three mistakes that folks make and also hit on why even starting seeds because I think some people just buy plants and that seems like the right way to do their garden. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but actually, there are some things wrong with doing that that we’re going to talk about today.

I think one of the main reasons that I like to start seeds is I like all the random, crazy varieties you can start from seed.

Oh, yeah.

Your access to varieties that you can’t get at the greenhouse is just through the roof. I think my major reason for liking it, it’s just being a part of that process of taking a little fleck of something and sticking it in the ground and watching it emerge. It’s a miraculous experience. And so seeing it happen, I think just… it instills so much joy and hope, and I don’t know, I just love it.

It just reminds you of the potential of something so small.

The potential, yeah.

Yeah, an acorn turning to an oak tree.

Well, it’s like a miracle of life, right? The fact that something can be created from almost nothing, literally almost nothing is just, it’s amazing. So, yeah.

Yeah. Where did it come from? It’s amazing. It’s really crazy to think about.

Yeah. How was that? All of that potential in that tiny little fleck. It’s crazy. So yeah, I love it. We also love gathering and collecting seeds like harvesting and saving seeds, so that when you do that, you have even more potential to save money and to have the varieties that you want forever. And that part is really fun too. And so I think for us, it’s just kind of a full circle. Not to say that we don’t buy plants, because we do. We have some trusted places that we get our plants from when we do buy plants, but yeah.

And we’ve been known to just hit up the old lowes super clearance. And so I think, I was just thinking about it. another aspect of it that I don’t know that we could all do better, right? On the carbon footprint of a seed. So I used to, little known fact or maybe you do know, I used to work at the Walmart Garden Center for a few years.

Yeah, a while.

And these massive trucks would come in from these massive greenhouses and truck and seedling sometimes came in during the summer season, almost every day of the week. And when you start thinking about that, that’s pretty impactful if you can stop that process.

Eliminate the need on some level. Yeah.

Right. Yeah, exactly. If you think about how much output is being put into getting those plants to the Garden Center, when you can just stop that, grow them at home, grow them in a paper pot or something else.

Well, it’s interesting because we talk a lot about growing local and getting local produce. And I think that’s something to keep in mind. If you’re going to get seedlings from someone, go to your local greenhouse, your local person who is doing it themselves from seed. That is going to have a bigger impact in a good way, versus in a, what Drew was saying, this imprint that we want to avoid as much as possible. So, yeah. Because some of these seedlings are shipped in from really far away and they are grown in greenhouses, giant, giant greenhouses that really are not great for the environment. There are just all these levels to it. So, yeah.

Yeah, when I worked at the Walmart in Boone, the plants came from Charlotte. And at the Walmart in Asheville, they came from Charlotte, which for those not local, that’s a three, four-hour drive with a big giant greenhouse truck. So that’s a lot of impact there.

It is a lot of impact. Yeah. And then additionally, when you buy plants from a place that has this mass amount of plants, you’re going to getting introduced to a massive amount of problems too, because there can be pests, there can be chemicals, there can be fungus. All of these things transfer quickly and easily in these environments. And so that’s something that you then are exposing your own garden to if you are bringing that into your own home, and farm, and garden and all of that. So just another way to avoid those cross contaminations is to start seeds yourself. So yeah, definitely. I think that past chemical infiltration can be a real issue. So, something that to avoid.

And I think another one is since we’re always talking about kids too, letting kids see that potential and working with kids. So Abraham and I, every morning, water seedlings together. In fact, the other morning, Eliza did it with me instead. And he was like-

He lost it.

The poor boy was devastated. He thought he was the “seed watering boy” is what he said. So yeah, there’s just this getting to watch it for themselves, that makes them excited. We could all learn from just their amazement that they have of it. but yeah.

Oh, kids love the process of starting seeds.

Yeah, It’s such an important lesson, a valuable lesson for kids to be able to watch that process take place. Then when they grow and have their own garden, and such, they will know all these tips that you taught them! and they won’t have to refer to the 3 common seed starting mistakes. Win win! So even if you don’t have a garden, I encourage you to grow flowers or basil or something in your window so that your kids can have that experience. Also, there’s less back and forth between the Garden Center and our home. So if we want tomatoes of a specific variety, we don’t have to go shopping all over town, or maybe we forgot something when we went to get our seedlings for the year. And when we start our own seedlings, then we just have so much more control and it’s less back and forth. It’s back and forth to the window where we’re growing them, but that’s it. So that actually feels really good to just be another level of self-reliance, right? If you can get it from home, why not?


They take up so little space. I feel like if you can dedicate one tabletop or one shelf to your seed starting, then the benefits of it are just boundless. So, yeah. Seed starting is the way to do it, right?

And I feel like that’s a good segue into mistakes. So let’s talk about the tabletop to start with.


So, I think the tabletop is probably the most commonly used thing for seed starting. and there’s totally nothing wrong with the tabletop.

Nothing wrong with it.

But you’re going to need more light.

We have started seeds in literally every fashion that you possibly can start seeds. So I want to put that out there first. You can make all those mistakes for yourself and enjoy that process or you can listen to us and skip a few steps.

I would say also, there’s nothing more devastating than starting your seeds, seeing this potential, and then you get these super long leggy plants that then fall over before they can get any bigger.

Or they dry out.

yeah or they dry out. definitely.

Or they’re not strong enough to go outside yet. yeah. There are multiple different ways that it can kind of go south. But you can avoid all of that if you just follow some advice.

Yeah. So common mistake number one would be light. There’s not enough light, your light is too far. Yeah. It doesn’t matter where you live, you’re not going to get enough light through your window for a seedling to grow properly.


You can’t do it unless you have a literal greenhouse. The light is not directed through your window, onto the plant as much as it needs to be in order for it to grow. It’s always going to be coming from one side or the other side. And a greenhouse, the way that they’re designed is so that the light dissipates through that filter of the windows or whatever to fully embrace the plant, so to speak. this is a big one that will definitely help with The 3 common seed starting mistakes! as promised

It’s kind of like mister for light instead of water.

Yeah. Right. So evenly dissipated around the whole plant. But you just can’t do that in a window.


So we’ve tried it and it works and they sprout and then they all stretch right over to the window.

Yeah. And then bad things happen.

And long and skinny.

So make sure you get your lights close enough. And there are all kinds of different ways to do that.

And by close enough, it’s not like we’re talking about, Oh, okay, you have a direct light 12 inches above. We want that light really within a three to seven-inch range.

Almost touching the leaves.

Almost touching them. Yeah.

This means you’re going to be adjusting the lights as you go along, but that’s part of the process.

For sure. Let’s see, oh, another issue is water. So light and water are the most important things for your seed, right? And then temperature too. But so water is something that you have to really plan for. And have your seedlings in a place where you’re going to water them every single day, and make that a part of your routine. And then we’ve talked about setting up infrastructure so that it’s on a timer so that if you miss a day, it’s not going to ruin everything. But we have done this before where we had seeds sprouted, and it’s doing great. And then we forget to water it and they’d shrivel up and die.

Yeah. I’ve just made it part of my morning routine. I love that part of it. I love spending the time with Abraham one-on-one. So it’s after my meditation time I water seeds, then I make coffee. That’s what we do during the growing season. And making it just part of that so you don’t forget about it. The benefit of having it on a tabletop where you see the seedlings is you do remember to water them. But when they’re first sprouting up, missing a day of watering could mean losing your seedlings. So it’s really important. There are little trays you can get where you keep the trays full of water and then you can maybe skip a day or two. But the water is very, very important.

Right. And then I think the highest mistake, although I feel like maybe we’re going to do more than three mistakes. Another is, we’ve made this mistake, is getting-

Bonus mistake.

Bonus mistakes. Is starting in the wrong soil or in the wrong container. We found that a lot of containers actually draw the moisture out, and the same with a seed starter. So seed starter can actually draw the moisture out. In an effort to store water, it takes it from the plant. Finding the right seed starter is important. And we’ve found that regular old potting soil works the best. So, yeah.

I think what comes to mind for me, one of our most frustrating ones is those little jiffy pots that you get from a seed starting kit.

The things that grow, yeah.

You water them and then they expand. Those are horrible.

The discs.


They seem really great and they literally will start your seed, and then kill it.

Right, yeah.

So unless you’re going to be really super fast about transplanting that into something else, I actually don’t recommend starting seeds in those things, as much fun as they are.

They’re really fun.

I love watching them.

You can give them to the kids and let them water them and watch them grow and then compost them, and you’re good to go.

Yeah. And then starting seeds at the wrong time, starting too many seeds are other issues that we see. And then also, temperature. So the seeds a lot of times won’t germinate just because the temperature isn’t warm enough. And so that’s something that you really want to consider. And there are some ways to make that better. Sealing off your windows so that the heat from the sun is warming the area could be one way to get it to be warmer. Also, they make covers for your seed trays that you can use as well that will help retain the moisture and the heat, creating that greenhouse effect, right? We’ve all heard that term before.

Right. What I don’t like about this covers is I feel like they just, they’re okay to get the seeds to sprout, but then I feel like it’s just like a bacterial or fungal issue waiting to happen.

Can be, yeah.

You’re just not getting enough air flow through those. So if you’re using those, pop them off after [crosstalk 00:13:33].

You put them on at night kind of situation or something to hold the heat in from the day. But yeah, it’s something that you just want to weigh out the pluses and the minuses, right?

So you skipped at a wrong time, but I think that one’s important too. So right now, we’re in beginning of March when we’re recording this. And there’s seedlings that should have already been started a month ago, seeds that should have been started a month ago. And now that we’re in this weird spot where in a couple of weeks, there’s a whole new round of seeds that we should be starting for middle to late summer. But you wouldn’t want to start middle to late summer seeds a month ago. So there’s very appropriate time for seeds. And we’re getting to the point where it’s almost too late to start tomato seeds now.

Not too late. You’re just going to have later planting, which means just later fruiting, which means you might just potentially cut off a bit of the season of tomatoes, which is totally still fine. I think that some of it is just about doing one.

I want maximum time.

Right. I think the race for getting it, the first tomatoes has begun. That if you’re wanting to win, it might be a little late to join that race. But it doesn’t mean it’s still not worth doing, so it’s not too late to start your tomato seeds. It’s just going to, you’re going to get your seeds or your seedlings in the ground a little later than other people.

Although I was talking to somebody that lived in Wyoming.

Yeah, and she probably would have, yeah.

It’s way too early for her to start tomato seedlings now. But if you don’t hit that window right on time-

And them, yeah, they really have a limited.

… they get winter the beginning of October where we’re still picking tomatoes.

And the thing is, it depends totally on where you are too, because if you’re growing in a greenhouse, you can really prolong your season and even start a second round of tomatoes later in the season that will grow into late fall because you have that protective cover. So yeah, it really, there’s a lot of factors and-

Bonus, bonus common mistake is not knowing your average last frost date and your first frost date.

Okay, so the bonus to the third degree is not having your mapped out schedule and goals setting. Because I think knowing what you want out of your situation is the most important thing.

Oh, that’s so true.

Just doing what can be done just for the sake of doing it is not, that’s just a waste of time.

Right. So growing veggies that you want to eat. Don’t grow veggies that nobody eats. One of our coaching clients, Russell, if you’re listening to this, he was telling us that his family, there’s veggies that they just won’t eat, so why grow them?

Right. Well, I feel that way about cucumbers.

Cucumbers. I love cucumber.

Well, I only grown them for Drew. And he’s planted eggplant this year, which I’m really not thrilled about, but…

I’m going to bob a good-

And we never grow okra for the record. Okra is disgusting.

Although it kind of makes me want to grow it. There’s nothing more satisfying than a tall stand of okra. Even though I don’t like to eat, I love to see the plants.

Yeah, yeah. But know what your goals are, what you want, and only start as many seeds as you’re going to plant in your garden. You don’t need a tray of a hundred tomato plants if you’re only going to grow four, right?


Really being clear about that.

Although you can stash tomato plants in the landscaping. Have done that. That is guilty. Okay. So that’s it with the common three mistakes and the common three mistake bonus section.

Yeah. Lastly, we just wanted to share, we actually created a tool for everyone who’s starting seeds, so that you can see exactly how we’ve refined our system, and get some of our best tips, best products, best tools. use what we’ve done and just maximize what you’re doing. And skip a few of the mistakes and start with just a headstart. We created a video just for that purpose. And we share all our secrets and how-tos, and try to make it as easy for anyone on any level to either refine their process or start from the beginning. That video we made available through the Academy.

It’s actually multiple videos. So it’s five videos.

A series of videos.

A series of videos on seed starting, step-by-step. By the end of it, you’re a seed starting expert.

So really it’s a seed starting course that we made in a really easy format, not over the top information. And that is available through the Academy. And we invite you to join in the Academy, which comes with tons of other resources. It comes with free access to the homestead open house, the homeschool open house, a lot of local events-

The [Sindecome 00:18:04] Schoolhouse Apothecary.

Yes. So much, so much available there. I think that you won’t regret having joined us. So, yeah.

And give it a try, it’s $17 a month. So if you absolutely hate it, you can cancel the next month. But it’s worth a try and worth getting the seed starting thing. But yeah. Thank you, everybody.

Yeah, have a great one.

So it’s March and we have some really exciting things going on and wanted to let you know about it. First of all, we’ve got the homestead open house, which is… I’m so excited about this. It is just going to be a phenomenal amount of content, talking about all things, homesteading. So whether you’re a novice or you have experience, you’re going to get to hear from people all across the globe, over 20 speakers sharing what they do, how they make homesteading work for themselves and there’s… it’s just going to be amazing, so, so, so much great content. I’m particularly excited about learning how to make Gouda. We’re going to be learning how to gather seeds and harvest seeds and start seeds and just growing crops through the year, working with animals. Just you name it, the topic is going to be covered. We can not wait.

On top of that, we have local. If you’re local, if you’re a small farmer or a homesteader, we do have a farming mastermind going on. We are meeting once a month and we would love to have you join us at that, at the schoolhouse. So if you’re local, please check that out. We also have new moon teas, which are a phenomenal place for women to connect and reflect and really just build some community. So we would love to have you check that out as well.

And then lastly, whether you’re local or not local, we have Academy and the Flock that you can check out. Both, we’re really hoping are an opportunity for anyone no matter where you are to learn the ins and outs of homesteading. The Academy, we have a monthly Q and A, live Q and A, and a library of over 70 videos on everything you can imagine. You also get free access to the homeschool open house and the homestead open house and discounts on the local events. we just think it’s a really great way to build community and grow together. And you get the guidance from Drew and I directly.

on top of that, we have the Flock. If you’re looking for a more, hands-on, one-on-one kind of connection, that’s an opportunity as well, starting this month. So we wanted to make sure you know all about that. And then something I just added to the calendar that I couldn’t be more thrilled about is a cleaning make and take. I’m going to share all my secret recipes on how to make really inexpensive but effective cleaning products that are safe for your home, sustainable, but they also boost your immune system. And one thing that I’m adding this time that we’ve never done before is beeswax wraps. Those are things that you can use, cloth that you can use to wrap instead of cellophane on your foods and that kind of thing to store them in the fridge. And I’m really excited about that. So I hope that you’ll check all of these things out and join us at some of them. And yeah, it’s going to be a great March.

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