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A Lesson in Starting Seeds Indoors

A few weeks ago, we attempted starting seeds indoors with a seed starter kit. Have you ever used one of those?

Sometimes, I feel like companies do everything they can to convince us that we cannot do for ourselves, even though we've been doing for ourselves since the first humans ever walked this earth. 

A lesson in starting seeds indoors - where I went wrong and what I did to fix it

Yet here I am with a seed starter kit complete with all these cheap plastic "technologies" that are proven to ensure my seedlings grow. The marketing on these things is ridiculous, yet convincing. Somehow, I start to believe that no one is capable of growing plants without them.

I actually planned to do a blog post on how I set up my seed starter kit with a little review of all the components. I was pretty excited about it because my little lettuce seedlings started sprouting within a couple of days. I thought, "wow, gardening is so easy!" 


I thought something was strange when all the seeds but my peppers were sprouting. Upon closer look, I noticed a bit of white furry stuff in almost all of the little seedling sections. Mold.  

white mold on seedlings

Apparently, these seed starter kits are almost too good at keeping moisture and humidity trapped in with the seeds. Even though you can water from the bottom, the whole tray stays constantly moist which is just enough to get the mold going, and to set you up for a disaster lesson in seed damping.  

So we're ditching the "guaranteed to grow" seed starter kits and just sticking with the old fashioned way of doing things: using what we have to plant, and watering when the soil feels dry. 

Our temporary gardening bench and our seed starting materials

We went ahead and transferred all the seedlings that looked ok to some larger pots, and using some plastic knifes for labels (using wood markers will also encourage mold), marked all our little vegetable plants. 

Use plastic knives to mark plants rather than wood plant markers. The wood can encourage mold to grow.


So, here's what I've learned so far about starting seeds indoors:

  • Too much water grows mold

  • A sprinkle of cinnamon can help prevent it
  • Seeds and Seedlings need good air circulation

Having issues with starting seeds indoors? Here's some great resources that helped me make sense of what was happening:

  • Damping Off - seedlings that die due to fungal disease.
  • Cinnamon - temporary way to save seeds from mold!
  • Calculate Last Frost Date - You should start your seeds indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost date.
  • // Questions

    • Have you ever tried starting seeds indoors?
    • If so, have you ever encountered problems such as mold?