Seed Starting for Beginners: Growing Tips and Getting Outside

Seed Starting for Beginners: Growing Tips and Getting Outside

For this final entry into our Seed Starting for Beginners trilogy, we will be covering what to do after your plants have germinated, caring for your seedlings, and how to get your plants ready for Spring in the great outdoors!

This is the stage of growth where seedlings are the most fragile, and are susceptible to disease and dehydration. Skip watering for a day, and you might come back to see your precious plant babies keeled over and crispy. Never fear! We're here to help you get through the next few weeks, and get your plants to the garden. If you haven't gathered supplies, or need some advice on getting your soil prepped and planted in, check out our previous blog post entries: The Complete List of Essentials, and Prepping Soil and Planting the Seed.

Now That They’re Growing: Give Them Light!

Now that your plants have germinated, remove the humidity dome, and move them to a sunny spot such as a south-facing window. (If you germinated your seedlings under their light source, then your seedlings are all set!) Seedlings need approximately 12-16 hours of light per day, so in Spring you may want to supplement natural light with a grow light. There are many options for grow lights at different cost points, from hanging LEDs to specialized grow bulbs you can screw into any standard lamp. Research the option that works best for you!


Caring for Your Seedlings:

As your seedlings continue to grow and develop, there are some overall care needs that your seedlings will have. These are the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Water regularly: If we haven’t said it before, seedlings are THIRSTY when they start to take off. You should water your seedlings when the top layer of the soil becomes dry. Our best recommendation is to check seedlings 1-2 times a day, and water once a day/once every other day. If you are watering your plants more than once a day, check to see if there is an excess of heat or light, or if the air is too dry (you may want to place a humidifier near seedlings if your air is fairly dry). All this said, be careful not to overwater seedings, and only water when the top layer of soil is dried out. Seedlings have fragile root systems that can easily get root rot, so be mindful of how much water your plants are getting.
  • Provide seedlings with an oscillating fan: Seedlings in the wild are exposed to a myriad of changing weather conditions: Rain, wind, changing temperatures, etc. Seedlings that are cultivated indoors don’t have to develop resistances to these events, and may struggle when moved outdoors. Placing an oscillating fan next to your seed trays essentially forces them to ‘work out’ so they are more resistant to normal weather patterns when moved outside. This also allows the stems and stalks to become stronger, preventing leggy-ness and even helping plants grow stronger if they become leggy over time.
  • Give them a treat: Though it’s not required to feed your seedlings when growing in our Seed Starter Mix, a boost of nutrients and microbes can help to speed up growth and supply added nutrients as your plants need them. Dilute our BIOACTIVE Liquid Biology Bundle at a recipe of 1 Teaspoon BIOACTIVE LiquiLife and 1 Teaspoon BIOACTIVE Liquid Supercharger into 1 gallon of water. Use as a weekly soil drench between waterings.
  • Don’t be afraid to say goodbye: Do you remember how we told you to plant 2-4 seeds per seed tray to increase your chances? Sometimes you get lucky, and you suddenly have 200+ happy seedlings in your tray! While this is exciting (and honestly a massive ego boost, you’re so good at growing plants), you will inevitably have to say goodbye to a few of these seedlings to prevent crowding and competition for resources. Choose the healthiest plant in the cell, and pinch off the tops of the other seedlings (and yes, if you’re wondering, it’s okay to cry). You can also wait until the seedlings are more developed and carefully separate your plants into individual seed cells and containers. Just be warned that you might be giving your friends and neighbors more free tomato plants than they need.


(Optional) Pot-Up Before Moving Outdoors:

Depending on how early you start your seedlings, you may have some plants that are starting to grow outside of their containers. While it’s great to have massive and successful plants so early, if they stay cooped up in their seed trays, they’re going to start to show signs of stress. If you have a small nursery pot left over from last year, and some Purple Cow IndiCanja or All-Purpose Veggie Mix, give your plants some room to stretch out before they go outside. Gently remove your seedling from the tray, and loosen any roots that are wound around the outside of the root ball. Hydrate your soil before planting to prevent transplant shock. Plant into this larger container and gently tamp the top of the fresh soil around your plant. We recommend moving your repotted plant to a sunny window so they have a little extra space to grow. Water and watch your plant thrive before finally getting outside!


Hardening Off:

Like sending your kids off to school for the first time, it’s finally time to let them explore the outside world. After your final frost date has passed (check the Farmer's Almanac for an estimated date), you can set your plants outside for a few hours at a time, and bring them back in before the sun sets. Over the next week, increase the amount of time your seedings are left outside by a few hours until they can finally be kept outside all night. Bring in plants if the weather is projected to be below 50 at night and continue the indoor/outdoor cycle until the weather warms.



After your hard work, it’s time to get planted! Whether into a container or straight into the garden bed, your seedlings are ready to get in the ground. To support long-term growth, we recommend adding a three-finger pinch of our All-Purpose Fertilizer to the bottom of your hole before adding your plant. This slow-release of nutrients, inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi, is the perfect companion for garden plants of all kinds. Make sure you water plants thoroughly to reduce the risk of transplant shock after planting.

If you're planting into pots and containers, you'll want to make sure you're growing in a high quality mix that can support healthier and happier plants. Veggie Mix and IndiCanja are perfect for hearty vegetables and flowers. Activated Potting Mix is the right choice for decorative flowerpot. The rich organic matter in this mix holds water in the hottest parts of the summer, taking the work out of your carefully curated containers.

Now that the warm weather has set in, your garden is ready to grow! Need tips on how to keep your freshly planted seedlings happy all season long? Contact our garden care experts for more information.