For plants that are not well suited to direct seeding, it is recommended that you start the seeds in containers and transplant them outdoors when they are ready. There are many different ways to start seeds. Regardless of your method there are two things that will help you:
1. Spend time with your plants every day. When they are small, they can go from healthy to dead very quickly.
2. Label your starts so you know what you planted; many plants look very similar when they are young. It is also helpful to keep a journal of when you started your seeds.
One method for starting seeds is to put one seed in each small pot. This method is easy and helps the root ball stays intact during transplanting. It is helpful to have seed trays or large containers to hold the pots. Small pots dry out very quickly so pay close attention to the moisture in your pots; don’t drown them, and don’t let them dry out completely. If any of the sprouts are unhealthy or significantly smaller than the others, you should remove them. This process is called thinning and will ensure that only the healthiest plants are taking up space in your garden. When your plants are a few inches tall you can transplant them into their new home. Don’t wait too long or the plant will become rootbound and never achieve it’s full potential.
If you are short on pots and or space you can start many seeds in one pot and transplant them later. This is especially good for plants such as tomatos and peppers that are tough to germinate, or need a long time before transplant. For this method simply scatter the seeds evenly in your pot, making sure each seeds has a little space around it. Once the seeds sprout, thin the smaller and unhealthy ones so the good ones have more room to grow. When the sprouts start to crowd each other you can transplant them into their own container where they will have more space. Final step is to transplant them into the ground where they will stay.
I can’t emphasize the importance of thinning enough. When sowing seeds, always plant more that you need, because some won’t sprout, and other will be be small, unhealthy or slow growing. Removing the unhealthy sprouts and saving only the best ones ensure that your garden will be filled with the strongest and best plants.