Starting Seed at Home

A hand holding small seeds.

Starting seeds indoors is a fun, family-friendly winter activity. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


Choose easy seeds that don’t require any special pre-treatment and can be planted right after purchasing, like wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).

Seed-starting “Soil”

Seeds need to be planted into a light-weight mix called “seed starting mix” that contains little, if any, soil. Regular soil will hold too much moisture that can cause the seedlings to wither and die.

Spray Bottle

Use the mist setting on a spray bottle to gently moisten the soil and seeds.

Small Pots

You don’t need to purchase a seed-starting tray. In fact, this is an opportunity to recycle some containers already in the blue box. Individual yogurt containers (with a few drainage holes poked into the bottom) and toilet paper tubes are just a couple of examples.

Pot Covers

A clear cover over the pots will help keep the seeds and soil moist while still letting light in. You can use a clear, plastic sandwich bag opened and turned upside down over top or place your pots inside a “clam-shell” container that store-bought produce is sometimes packed in.

Planting Steps and Caring for Your Seeds

  1. Fill your pots with the seed-starting mix, leaving about two centimetres of space from the top. 
  2. Moisten the potting mix before you plant your seeds to help settle the soil.
  3. Plant three to four seeds per pot. Follow the seed packet’s instructions to see how much, if any, soil should cover your seeds.
  4. Place the pots on a tray in a warm, sunny windowsill and cover the pots with the clear cover. Mist the soil regularly to keep the seeds moist (not wet). Seeds won’t sprout if they dry out.
  5. Once the seeds send up green shoots and become seedlings, remove the cover from the pots. For wild bergamot seeds, this could take about 14 to28 days.

In mid-May, after the last frost has passed, begin the process of “hardening-off” before planting them in the garden.

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