The Garden at Winterhaven Devas, Nature Spirits, Fairies Oh My
I love growing plants from seed. I start all of my vegetables and annual flowers from seed each year and have started most of my herbs and perennials that way too.

Walter built me a pair of plant stands that I keep in the basement. They have three levels each and each level has two 4 ft long two-bulb florescent light fixtures. The light fixtures are adjustable so that as the plants get taller, I can raise the lights up to give them room to grow.

Plant stands Closeup of plant stand

The pots are watered from below using capillary matting. The green wick draws water from the reservoir to keep the mat wet. I still have to keep on eye of things because sometimes the mat will dry out but it's sure easier than watering each pot by hand!

In the last few years I've added a Green Genie that waters the matting twice a day to insure it stays evenly wet. That way the seedlings can actually take care of themselves for days at a time without my attention.

Green Genie closeup Green Genie

The Green Genie is a little pump with a timer that sends water through the green spaghetti tubing to keep the matting wet. You can regulate how much water it pumps and how often.

Last year when we decided to go south for the month of April, Walter created a pump system to automatically fill the bucket that the Green Genie pumps from! Now we can be gone a month and my seedlings are still okay!

Pump System  Inside the reservoir

The blue Rubbermaid tub holds 25 gallons of water. The pump that you can see in the bottom of the tub in the photo on the right is actuated by a level switch in the Green Genie's bucket. When the Green Genie draws the water down, the pump starts running and pumps water from the tub through the clear plastic tubing into the bucket.

I've tried all sorts of mixes and media for seed starting over the years. My greatest success rates have come from Growers Grade Sunshine Grow Mix. I go through a big bale of it each year. It comes in a black package that I get at Molbaks. The price has gone up a bunch the last few years because it comes from Canada and the change in exchange rate has meant that it takes more US dollars to buy that lovely Canadian peat.

Sunshine Potting Mix

I buy my vegetable seeds from Territorial Seed because they sell varieties selected specifically for the Pacific Northwest. I've had consistent good results using their seeds for nearly 25 years.

I buy my flower seeds from Territorial Seed, Park Seed and Thompson and Morgan. What I buy from whom depends entirely on what each of them is offering each year and what things I want to grow that year.

I've got a huge collection of plastic cell packs (6, 4, 2 cells each) that I start most things in.

pot collection

A few plants that grow fast (like tomatoes) or don't like to be transplanted get started in 2" and 4" pots.

Copra Onion seedling in six cell pack
Copra Onion Seedlings

I fill the cell packs out in my potting shed. I used to try to get them wet out there but our water is so cold in the winter and early spring that the peat doesn't get wet. So I bring the pots and cell packs in flats into the house and water them with warm water in my laundry room sink.

Then I plant the seeds and slide the flats into large clear plastic bags. The bags are big ones I've saved over the years since you can't easily buy them anywhere. I put the flats on a seed starting heat mat that I have spread out on a table top. I've found that it helps to have a fluorescent light (one of the new compact ones that replace regular 100 watt bulbs works great) pointed at the flats for those seeds that require light for germination and so that there's light for the babies when they first come up.

seed flats on heat mat

I try to check each morning for new babies and when the majority of cells in a pack are up I move them onto the plant stands. They stay there until a week before they're ready to go out into the garden. Then I move them out into my cold frame to harden them off.

Cold frame

Most years, I start planting seeds the first of March. Since I start so many seedlings each year I have a planting schedule that I've created to keep track of it all. Following it makes sure that I don't try to start more than I can handle in any given week.