Successfully Starting Your ‘Survival’ Garden; Indoors & Out

Gardening 101: Beginning With The Gardening Basics

Beginners Guide To Growing:


Understanding the seed starting process is essential for us to successfully grow our garden. Keep in mind, every garden is different, so it is important to not only follow each seed packet's direction, but it is equally important to understand how and why our individual “seeds” may or may not “germinate.”

Without the germination process, there is no garden. If we do not understand the process, how can we ever achieve our desired result? And even if we do, by pure luck and our result turns out favorable the first few times around, it is safe to assume our beginner's luck will run out? Quite Possibly.

So how can we successfully start our garden without the knowledge behind what it is that we are starting? We can’t. Gardening is an art & knowledge is the key. We don’t know what we don’t know. So let us not pretend we know it.

I suppose I now understand why so many of us healers have turned to the garden as their outlet. We love to heal. We love learning how, why, what, and when but most importantly we love the fullness we feel when we are successful in it. It’s all starting to make sense now, isn’t it?

So let’s continue doing what we know, learning with the intent of understanding.


What is germinating anyway?

Seeds start in two different stages. First, they germinate, then they grow. By definition, germination is the stage in which you start seeing your seed sprout and you can visualize that the root and leaves have emerged from the seed planted.

Germination is a process that occurs underneath the soil. During this process of going from seed to seedling, contrary to popular belief, light is not the star of the show. Warmth is. During this phase, consistent soil warmth and water is what are crucial. Unfortunately, with the unpredictability of today’s weather and the impact the cooler winter months has on seed germination, not everyone around the map has been given the gift to grow all year long, right? Not exactly.

Most growing, and when I say most, I mean most, can occur inside the walls of our very own home. With the help of seedling heating mats and grow lights we have been given the ability to mimic the same outside environment each seed thrives in. It is important to understand how and why seeds may and may not germinate. Several environmental factors can affect seed germination, besides the obvious elements such as sun exposure and watering. The amount of moisture in the soil, its PH level, and temperature can all have an impact on seed germination. Something as simple as improper seed storage can stop germination before it starts. The burial depth of our seed also affects seed germination so it is important to learn about what you are planting before. By staying organized and starting slow you will truly be able to enjoy the art of growing. And how like many other things in life, with a little extra love and nurture we can start over again from scratch.

I have had a lot of gardeners ask about the term, “direct sowing”. Direct sowing is just a term used to describe the act of directly planting a seed into its appropriate soil. When done correctly, direct sowing can be done all year round. By investing in an inexpensive heating mat, we are now able to mimic the warmth that’s naturally present in the summer while still being in the comfort & safety of your own home. Kinda sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

In fact, there are even some vegetables, depending on their planting zone, that it is a requirement to start their seeds indoors in early spring or sometimes even in the winter to give them a head start on, in my opinion, an already too-short growing season. Once our seasons change and the air and the soil are warm enough for our seedlings to thrive, if desired we can then move our plantings outdoors.

A seedling heating mat is a special heating mechanism that can be placed underneath our planted seeds to encourage germination. By using a heating mat we are now able to provide our soil with adequate warmth by keeping our soil nine to ten degrees warmer than the average room temperature. By providing our seeds with this gentle heat we are now allowing our seeds the opportunity to germinate faster, leading to healthier seedlings and in turn a greater amount of harvest! Heating Mats Allow Growing Indoors All Year Round.

Sufficient Watering Is Essential

As we all know, water is essential in the beginning phases of the germination process. While essential, it is important to note that the most common causes of germination failure are secondary to improper watering. Both over and under watering can be the sole reasons our seeds do not germinate. While we will touch on watering a little later on in this article it is important to note, that without water, germination can not occur.

When you heat the soil from underneath, you may find out that it dries out more quickly, and your plants may need more water than expected. So, keep a close eye on how moist/damp the soil is, and water as needed--seedlings can dry out fast.

Germination = Success:

Once our seeds germinate to about half an inch tall: SUCCESS! At this point, as we enter the ‘growing phase’ we can now remove the heating mats with the expectation that we are keeping our seedlings at a room temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heating Lights Allow Growing Indoors All Year Round:

Once the germination phase has past seeds begin entering the growing phase. Light is an essential component of the growing phase. On average plants need 15 hours of bright light every day. So I know what you are thinking. How is that even sustainable? Am I setting myself up for failure? No.

Grow your seeds, without the sun using inexpensive Grow lights:

With the help of artificial lights and a consistent watering schedule, our plants can thrive perfectly indoors. It is still just as important to closely monitor your new seedlings and ensure they do not begin to show signs of inadequate light. One sure sign your seedling is getting inadequate light is when they begin to grow tall and leggy. If your seedlings start showing these warning signs, they could be in trouble. Try first by lowering the temperature of the room a degree or two. This can make all the difference. Continue the use of indoor with grow lights, ensuring your seedlings receive 15 hours of bright light each day. Please also keep in mind electrical safety and the importance of taking all of the appropriate safety measures, as described in each packaging. Warm temperatures can also stimulate leggy growth. This is why heating mats to germinate and grow lights to grow accompanied with adequate watering becomes an essential component of indoor planting and gardening.


Some of the many benefits of starting your seeds indoors are the multiple ways you can save money, especially during a time like this. Less Expensive: For a dollar or two you can buy seeds for many more varieties than you will ever be able to find as grown seedlings for sale. This kind of flexibility, allows more of us to be able to experiment with more flavors, shapes, and colors, and to harvest our favorite edibles over a longer period by planting varieties that mature at different times.

More fruits & or veggies:

Starting seeds indoors allows numerous plants a head start that can produce an earlier and greater harvest. If there is one thing 2020 taught me, it's the need to have my own at-home survival garden.

Tips & Tricks:

Always plant with a starting mix that is light and fluffy and designed to hold just enough moisture. If the growing medium is too wet or not sterile, the disease can strike. Burial depth of seed also affects seed germination and seedling emergence.

Do your homework ahead of time:

Different plants have different needs, so always refer to the directions on your seed packet to direct you when and how to sow your seeds. Not all seeds can be started indoors.

As earlier mentioned, water is essential in starting the germination process, but it is essential not to under or overwater your seedlings. Unfortunately, inconsistent watering is one of the most common causes of seedling failure.

It is important to take note that every seed is different and germination takes place at different rates. Keep a close eye on your plantings because it would not be uncommon for you to have to pot some plants before others. Don’t worry if some seedlings are sprouting before others- that’s perfectly normal :).

Happy Planting!



Christine Poccia

50 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All