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Starting to Grow Seeds in a Greenhouse at Home

Updated on January 25, 2013

Planting Seeds

Correct type of potting mix when you are starting from seeds and one of our recycled yogurt cups.  Regular potting mix is not recommended.  Copyright David Palmer personal collection.
Correct type of potting mix when you are starting from seeds and one of our recycled yogurt cups. Regular potting mix is not recommended. Copyright David Palmer personal collection.

Greenhouse Seeds

My family, like many others out there, has a vegetable garden every year and just like everyone else we usually go to our local hardware store, or nursery, to pick out our seeds and plants. This season we decided to go a different, more challenging route.

My wife has always been disappointed with the selection of plants and seeds for sale during the spring planting season. She has purchased gardening books in the past and knew about all of these unconventional types of the staples like tomatoes, corn and melons so she knew what kinds were available.

After surfing the internet for a while she stumbled upon a fairly local company that sold organic seeds and they offered a wide selection of vegetable types, many we hadn’t even heard of before. Being the holistic person she is my wife was all excited and ready to start this journey of gardening by seed instead of plants. The seeds cost less than two dollars a package and each package had a few seeds. Compare the price to what the plants cost at the hardware store and there certainly is an opportunity to save some money while growing your own veggies at home.

Mini Greenhouse

Obviously sprouting seeds would be more difficult than just digging a hole and planting a vegetable plant, but she was up to the challenge and the kids were anxious to help. She found a nice little greenhouse for under $100 that was portable, which just added to its appeal. We walked the property and found a spot right next to the horse’s area that provided abundant sunshine as well as some protection from the wind that we always seem to get in the summer here.

After setting up the greenhouse they got to planting the seeds. Being the frugal recycling people we are we saved a bunch of the little yogurt cups to be our “pots” for the seeds. We just poked a drainage hole in the bottom of the cups and we were all set. We eat a bunch of yogurt so collecting the cups came easy; they would have just gone into the recycling bin anyway.

We kept up on watering the little seeds and checked almost daily for any little green to be coming out of the soil. A couple of weeks of no progress and we started to fear that we did something wrong. After again resorting to the internet for some advice we found the step that tripped us up.

Soil Types

Being the rookie seed starters that we are we didn’t know that you couldn’t use any kind of soil to start seeds in. Apparently there is a special soil that you are supposed to use that will help the seeds to germinate, but will not increase the risk of the seeds rotting prior to germination. After making a trip to the hardware store I got the correct soil, even though there really isn’t any soil in it. The potting mix is mainly sphagnum peat moss with a little bit of perlite sprinkled in; it certainly doesn’t feel like dirt. I guess in our naivety we didn’t know that there was a product advertising itself as soil free potting mix. Prior to learning this information I would have thought soil free potting mix was some kind of a bad joke.

We began the undertaking of replanting the seeds which meant dumping out all of the normal, non-seed starting soil. After sifting through the soil we dumped into the wheelbarrow it became painfully clear that our little seeds had rotted completely away because we used the wrong soil.

Sprouting Seeds

After a few hours a new batch of seeds are sitting in their little sphagnum filled yogurt cup homes and we are once again anxiously waiting for them to sprout. We planted fifty-four cups and used almost two bags of the seed starting potting mix. The bags cost us less than five dollars each so they really aren’t cost prohibitive to use.

Our confidence is once again up and we are looking forward to seeing progress in our little greenhouse.

How to Build a Greenhouse


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Horatio – going into it I will admit I was not up to it. After learning from a couple of mistakes it isn’t as scary as I thought.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      picklesandrufus – thanks, with our kids and animals in the yard we try very hard to not use pesticides for anything. Our flock of chickens could be eradicated with one bad dose of a pesticide and that would be tragic.

      Fortunately we have plenty of compost from our animals so we just use that for our fertilizing needs!

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      billybuc – When my wife mentioned she wanted to do the greenhouse thing I initially thought back to a few plants around the yard that she sent to the big nursery in the sky and I cringed.

      After seeing her working on it I have plenty of confidence that she will redeem her past disappointments with this exercise and I’m very excited to see some of these new plants grow over the next few months.

      Glad you enjoyed it, thanks.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      kittyjj – I’m certainly no master gardener so the different soil types threw me for a loop too; I guess we all have to learn somehow!

      Thanks for reading.

    • Horatio Plot profile image

      Horatio Plot 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, England.

      Interesting information. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to do this, but having read the article, you never know...

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Kudos to you and your wife for starting from seed.At least you know they are organic and not genetically modified. I hope it works this time. Thanks for the good info. as well...would have planted them in soil just like you did at first.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have not mastered the greenhouse growing thing yet; I can get seedlings to grow easily but then they grow tall with no bulk and eventually die when I try to transplant them. I obviously need to do some research on this. Loved your hub!

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      I don't have a green thumb and the plants in our back yard don't seem to last very long. Thank you for pointing out that different seeds require different soil. I will pay more attention to the type of soil we need to buy when I purchase my next set of plants. Thanks for sharing! :)