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Today I am going to share with you the top 12 mistakes you can make while growing your seedlings. Now I don’t like to call these things mistakes per se but more like hiccups. Hiccups that can lead to huge problems down the road. All of these hiccups can be solved with supplies and just a little knowledge. I know I have shared the #1 mistake with you but I have got so many other questions I thought I would answer them all here.

(Updated Episode)

Top 12 Growing Seedling Mistakes

Using the Wrong Soil

I have had many of you ask me this question especially from the accept of trying to save a little money. Here is your question, “ Do I have to use the special Seedling Start Mix that is so expensive?”

And here is your answer, “ Yes and No!”

I guess that is not much of an answer but let me explain. Yes, you have to use it to germinate your seeds. Seedling Starter Soil is designed to help you germinate your seeds successfully. It is finer than normal potting soil, which allows your seed to have better contact with the soil. It also is not heavy in nutrients that could burn your young seedlings. But the answer is also No, as in you do not need to use Seedling Starter Mix throughout your seedlings life. As you pot up your seedlings or move them out of the garden you can use different soils. But you do want to avoid while potting up, (I will share more about potting up in just a moment) using a potting mix with slow-release fertilizers that can burn your young seedlings.


This is again going to have to with germination. Really if you think about the main struggles you are going to have are going to do with germination. Because this something you have never had to deal with before. I know I didn’t when I bought my seedlings. Because that is what you are outsourcing when you purchase seedlings isn’t it?

Let’s get back to warmth. Warmth is all about your soil temperature for germination. Different varieties are going to need the soil to be at different temperatures. For example, Tomatoes need warmer soil than spinach. Also things like celery that have very specific soil temperature that is included in the growing information on the back of the seed packet.

I go into more detail about soil warmth in my How to Start Seedling On A Budget blog post. And there I discuss the uses of a Seedling Heating Mat and how this supply can be used to help you solve this problem.


This is another question I have been getting, “Do I need to supplement my seedling with artificial lights?”

And this truly depends on what you are going to be growing as seedlings. If you are just starting your lettuce a couple of weeks before they need to go out to give them a head start then, No you do not need the lights. But if you are like me and are planning to start almost all of your seedlings yourself, like tomatoes, celery, onions, peppers that need to start more than 6 weeks before they go out into the garden then, Yes, you will need lights!

Leggy Seedlings

And here is why. To avoid legginess. Legginess is when your seedlings don’t get enough light and they grow so fast that they outgrow themselves and their root system. And to be honest a leggy plant is a weak plant and it is going to struggle all its life. To avoid legginess you need to provide your seedling with all the light it needs. Light is how your seedlings grow and produce food, so it is very important.


Water is important to seedlings because this how they get the nutrients they need from the soil. But water can be a hiccup in two ways. One if they don’t have enough water, they can get nutrients. And two they get too much water and suffocate or a fungus called damping off disease develops and kills your seedlings. The damping-off disease is a fungus that thrives in over damp conditions and grows on the top of your potting soil. And can look like your seedlings have just been bitten off by a mouse or squirrel.

So it is best to give your seedlings the right amount of water and do let them dry out a little between waterings, but not too much.


This is in a way connected to watering right. Because without water your seedlings can not absorb the fertilizer you give them. But there is another aspect of fertilization that is even more important than water and that is when and how much.

Your young seedlings are designed by God to not need fertilization until the first true leaves form. So what are the true leaves? Well, they are the leaves that form after the first cotyledon leaves. They are the first leaves that look like what you planted. So the first leaves look like a tomato if you planted a tomato seed. The first leaves look like a cucumber leaf if you planted a cucumber seed. And so on so forth. The cotyledon leaves are the leaves that help feed the seedling before the true leaves form. Isn’t it so cool how God designed nature to care for itself?

Also how much! Seedlings are very young and frail and too much fertilizer can burn them. So be sure to dilute any fertilizer you choose to use. I use Organic Fish Poop because it is natural and easily dissolved in water to make the application very easy!

Seedling Fertilization

Thinning And Potting Up

So what is thinning? Thinning is the process of only choosing the stronger seedling to grow in each soil cell. When you place two seeds in each soil cell to ensure proper germination but both seedlings come up. Thinning is when you choose which of the seedlings is weaker and snip it off so the remaining seedling does not need to compete for nutrients. Another example would be when you are multi-sowing. Multi-sowing is when you purposefully sow more than one or seeds so that you can plant out cells of more than one vegetable at a time. This is done a lot for beets, turnips, or onions. So in this instance thinning would be done if you accidentally planted even more than you wanted, like 6 beets instead of 4.

Potting Up is done when your seedlings outgrow the soil cell you started the seeds in. This happens very often with seedlings that need to grow for more than 4 weeks indoors before being transplanted outside. And this is also where I mentioned before that you can change the soil to potting soil without slow-release fertilizer to save a few coins. This also is what happens when you make mistake or hiccup #12.

Hardening Off

This hiccup can be made with seedlings you purchase and seedlings you grow on your own because it is the process of getting your seedlings ready to move from one environment to another. And this happens when you are moving your seedlings from your seedling growing area or greenhouse if you purchase your seedlings to your garden.

Hardening off is the step you take to get your seedling used to the new environment. And this is done by slowly introducing your seedlings to conditions outdoors. Remember your seedlings are young and tender and growing in your seedling area is different from the crazy world of outside. I walk you through my hardening-off process in the Growing Your Seedlings Like A Pro Master Class.

Giving Up

This happens when the seedlings are given up before they have a chance to germinate. Every variety of vegetables or flowers have a set number of days that it will take for them to germinate after being moistened and sown in the soil. But as a result of you always watching them, kind of like watching a clock it feels like the hour is never going to be over, the same can happen with germination. So instead of waiting the full time, you think they will never germinate so you give up. Or you experience an above hiccup and you give up. That is why I urge you to find someone to ask your questions before you give up. Go to your local growing center and ask them. I know I still ask them tons of questions or don’t hesitate to contact me. I have a contact page just for this reason!

Noticeable Place

Placing your seedlings in a place that you are going to remember to care for them. You are a very busy person and placing things that need you in place that you walk by every single day you remember them. This is also very important permaculture fundamental. You plant things or place things in your environment in order of how often they need to be cared for.

Reading the Seed Packet

And when I talk about noticing, the next thing you need to notice is the back of your seed packet. The back of your seed packet is full of all the information you need to grow and care for that variety of vegetables or herbs. I know from personal experience that all that information can seem a little daunting and almost overwhelming. I wrote another blog post on this topic as well in, How to Avoid Seed Information Overload. In this post, I share with you the exact step and even give you a tool you can use so that all of this information is never overlooked and is always at your fingertips even if you happen to misplace your seed packet. So be sure to check that out as well.

Read the Seed Packet to get information about your seedlings

This information on the back of your seed packet will help you know which should be sown indoors or outdoors. It may tell you more about the variety as if it is better to plant in the spring or the fall. There is so much there so don’t forget to use it.


Keeping records can be the solution to a lot of these hiccups. If you keep track of watering, fertilizing, or germination rate. Germination rate can help you determine if there was something that went wrong during that process. So for example, if you sow 10 seeds but only 5 germinate that is a 50% germination rate, which is not very good. And the records of your process can help you be more successful the next time you sow those seeds.

Your records are going to be helpful in many other ways as well. Like if you even like the taste of the harvest you got from a certain variety of green beans. And this leads us into the next hiccup. By keeping good records and reading the back of your seed packet you are going to be able to start your seedlings at the perfect time!

Wrong Time

Now I not going to go into great detail here as I wrote another blog post on this topic called How to Avoid This #1 Mistake When It Comes to Growing Your Seedlings.

It is very important when you decide to grow your seedlings that you start them at the right time. Starting seedlings too early can lead to problems with running out of space for everything, to having to spend more money on soil because you are not just potting up a few things but everything. How do I know this because I made this mistake when I was first starting. You can't read or listen to the whole story in the link above.


You are going to be able to grow your seedlings especially when you avoid the above hiccups and remember don’t hesitate to ask questions. There is never a silly question and feel free to contact me or comment below.

Have a blessed day,


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