Wash your hands with soap and water before starting seeds. To protect against germs, your soil mix should be made of sterile mediums and mediums with populations of beneficial micro-organisms (in which bad micro's have a hard time getting established). Starting seeds takes you from the seed stage to the seedling stage of growth.
Sometimes people use wet paper towels for starting seeds, and transplant them next. Unfortunately, if you touch them with your hands you often infect them with something and they die. Also, if you do not catch them right away as they open, they often expend too much energy shooting the tap root out and they die.
Instead, I like to soak larger seeds overnight (about 12 hours) in a Maxicrop solution that equals 15 ml/gallon. This gives them a jump start on swelling with water, but gives me time to transfer them to soil before they pop open.
Directly in Soil
For starting smaller seeds that are hard to handle, I like to sow them directly into the soil.
I like using an even mix of perlite, vermiculite, and sphagnam peat with about 10 percent worm castings added. While the worm castings contain mostly nitrogen, it is in a form that is gentle. Once your seeds have sprouted, the living enzymes in the worm castings really help the roots to grow .
Add a little B1 to your water, than moisten the soil little by little. The mix is just right for starting seeds when you squeeze a handful firmly and a few drops come out (but only a few drops). Now it's time to fill up the trays.
Check your Seed Pack
Every seed has its own favorite way it likes to be planted. Make sure you check your seed pack for their directions. Most seeds germinate best around 75 degrees. If the air is very dry, you might want to keep them covered with plastic or in a humidity dome.
Once they sprout, keep them about 4 inches from your fluorescent light. The temperature should be kept a constant 75 degrees for seedlings.
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For more information on starting seeds
Go to the garden prep/seed starting page