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SeedShare: Seed Starting

Seed starting websites

Starting Seeds Indoors - A detailed article describing some indoor seed starting basics. The Farmer's Almanac has loads of great gardening resources, from when to start seedlings inside, to how to harden off seedlings when they're ready to be moved outside.

Chicago Botanic Garden's Sowing Seeds Indoors guide.


Seed Starting Basics

What materials do you need?

  • A bright window, preferably South facing, or a grow light
  • A sterile seed starting mix - don't use potting soil or compost! You'll burn your poor little seedlings!
  • A seed starting tray, peat pots, or you can get creative and reuse toilet paper rolls, plastic container, the possibilities are endless
  • An oscillating fan - this will help toughen up your seedlings so their stems don't get "leggy" and flop over
  • A spray bottle - this is helpful for watering your seeds so you don't dislodge them


When should you start your seeds?

If you plan to transplant your seedlings outdoors, it's a good idea to start them at the correct time so that they are strong enough to be moved outside. This depends on the growing zone you are planting in. Oswego is in a hardiness zone 5b/6a. Not sure what a hardiness zone is? The USDA provides a brief description and map:


Zone 6 New York Garden Schedule

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How deep should you plant your seeds?

  • Seeds should be planted at a depth of two times the width, or diameter, of the seed. For example, if you have a seed that's about 1/16 inch thick, it should be planted about 1/8 inch deep. 

  • Large bean seeds, which can be up to 1/2 inch wide, may need to be planted an inch deep.

  • For tiny seeds, place them on the surface of the soil and barely cover



Select Seed Quick Start Guide



Name Planting Depth Spacing Light Requirement (once germinated) *Special Instructions
Onion 1/4 - 1/2" 3-4" Full (6-8hrs) Shallow rooted and appreciate damp soil
Leek/green onion 1/4-1/2" 1/4" Full  
Pepper 1/4 1 per cell Full Peppers germinate very slowly unless you place a heating mat under them
Corn 1" 6-7" Full  
Swiss Chard 1/2" 4-6" Partial  
Carrot 1/4-1/2" 3/4-1" Partial  


Name Planting Depth Spacing Light Requirement (once germinated) *Special Instructions
Basil 1/4" 1' Full  
Sage 1/4" 2' Full Let the soil mostly dry out between waterings/doesn't like to stay damp once established
Marjoram lightly cover with soil 1' Full  
Lavender lightly cover with soil 1' Full  
Dill 1/4 1' Full Doesn't like to be transplanted, plant in a container that can be buried/is biodegradable. 



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