Growing from seed is rewarding, cost effective, and allows you to grow unusual varieties that may be difficult to find at garden centers or greenhouses. The typical response to growing seeds would be buying seed starter, getting some seed flats and finding a sunny spot.
A problem with this can be size. The seed flats may be to large to grow a few seeds of this and a couple seeds of that. You may want to grow a couple varieties of tomatoes, some pretty flowers to grace your gardens, some heirloom pass along seeds that Great Aunt Irma sent along and start some basil. This can become a problem with large seed flats holding just a few seeds, or planting seeds together that have different germination times. Putting a seed flat near a sunny window is fine, but what about 5 flats?
Reusing plastic deli containers can help solve this problem. They are large enough to start seeds, but not so large the seeds will get lost. They can also be washed and reused over and over.
The clear cover can act as a small greenhouse, flipping it up when the seeds have germinated. Space can be controlled as the containers are much smaller. On a piece of masking tape or painters tape, write the name and date seeds were sown. That way if the seeds take 10 – 14 days to germinate, you won’t panic if you don’t see them after 6 days.
Once the seedlings have grown their first pair or two of true leaves, they can be repotted into a 4 inch pot. Be gentle with the baby seedling, holding onto a leaf for support and sliding a plastic spoon under the soil to act as a shovel. Lift carefully, releasing the seedling with a small amount of soil covering the roots. By holding onto the leaf you do not run the risk of damaging the stem. The seedling can grow a new leaf easily.
Once the weather has gotten warm enough, harden off the seedlings by placing the potted plants outdoors for a few hours each day. After a week, they should be hardened off enough to go outside into their garden spot full time. Watch for windy weather as that can really dry out seedlings.