Seedbed Guide

Most vegetables known to us are not sown directly in the garden, but are grown by transplanting first.

sowing can be purchased from nurseries or reputable stores, but learn how to get them yourself It’s a big step forward: it allows you to save money and cultivate for each species only the varieties that interest you, since the purchase of seed packets can be organized over time and with a good choice in relation to ready-made seedlings.

By nursery or nursery we mean a transparent structure generally covered with sheets of plastic, glass or plexiglass and whose function is to offer a warm microclimate to seedlings growing indoors.

Contents [Ocultar]

  • Why sow in a nursery?

  • What vegetables are suitable for the seedbed

  • Buy or build the structure

  • Seedbed Features

    • Seedbed position

    • the appropriate dimensions

    • minimal furniture

    • Heater

  • What it takes to sow

    • seedling containers

    • Substrate: what soil to use

    • the best seeds

  • How to plant seedlings

    • When to sow the different species

  • after planting

    • Nursery watering

    • precautions

    • Potential plant diseases and pests

    • When the seedlings are going to be transplanted


Why sow in a nursery?

The advantages offered by the seedbed technique compared to direct sowing in the garden are numerous and interesting.

  • Select seedlings . First of all, we can plant more seedlings than we really need in the garden, so when they are ready we will have the opportunity to choose the best and most evenly developed ones.
  • Optimize garden space . As the seedlings spend the first phase of their life inside the nursery, they occupy the beds for less time, and these can be used for other crops beforehand. Think of all those species that are only transplanted at the end of April or May, for example pumpkins: if we planted them directly in the garden, we would have to do it at the beginning of April, and the space would then be taken up a month earlier, not allowing maybe not spinach or salads grown in that same space before.
  • early sowing . The seedbed is a protected place, where it can be sown a few weeks before direct sowing, as the internal temperature is higher.
  • Less weeding work . Keep in mind that transplanted seedlings have an advantage over weeds, although we will soon have to hoe, weed or mulch.
  • Cost savings . Last but not least, there is the saving on the purchase of seedlings, which will soon repay the small initial investment to establish the structure.

What vegetables are suitable for the seedbed

Although most horticultural crops can be grown in a nursery, it is important to know that some species do not tolerate transplanting, so it is good to know which cultures are indicated for planting in containers.

All cucurbits lend themselves well to transplanting: pumpkin, zucchini, melon, watermelon and cucumber . The technique is also valid for pepper pepper, eggplant, tomato, head lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, cabbage and other vegetables .

Normally, these species are transplanted to be placed at well-defined distances in the garden while he would be less suitable for species placed in a continuous row , such as arugula and parsley, or peas and beans, as this would require too many seeds and it would therefore be better to sow directly in rows. However, some farms transplant arugula, spinach and parsley because with direct seeding in rows, the rapid emergence of weeds would make it difficult to keep the row clean and that is why they prefer to transplant the clumps of 3- 4 seedlings in perforated black sheets.

In the case of carrots, turnips and radishes, transplanting is not recommended because the rooting of seedlings is difficult, being the root species it is best to sow directly in the garden, to obtain a more regular and good-sized vegetable.

If we have little space for the seedbed, we have to choose between the seedlings to plant and those to buy. In this case it is preferable to buy plants of leeks and onions because they are placed in the garden at close range and a lot is needed: we would risk investing all our small nursery space just with them. Additionally, leek and onion seeds can be stored for up to 2 years, so if there are a few bags left open, they may expire before they are fully used.

Buy or build the structure

If you practice carpentry and like manual work, you can build yours a load-bearing structure in wood or, alternatively, in metal to be covered with transparent material . DIY the seedbed is not difficult to do, the important thing is to provide practical openings then carry out all the necessary operations.

If we choose instead to buy of the greenhouse-seminar , the expense to buy it will continue to pay off in a relatively short time, considering the savings made when buying seedlings, you can choose from many different solutions that are on the market, you need to select the most suitable depending on size and features. For example, a simple and inexpensive Mini Heated Seedbed can be found here, while a Small Tiered Fabric Covered Seedbed can be found here.

Seedbed Features

As we have already seen, the hearth is a wooden or metal structure with transparent walls and cover (therefore glass, plastic sheets or plexiglass panels), we see that other characteristics must have such as dimensions and positioning.

Seedbed location

To position our small greenhouse, prefer a sunny position but also sheltered from the winds . The seedbed can be placed directly in the garden but this takes up space for cultivation, so it is good to consider other sunny spots outside of this area. Given the frequent tending required by seedlings, it is essential that the nursery to be close where you live or work, or have collaborations for daily care. In fact, seedling production could be an important shared activity at various market gardeners.

the appropriate size

There are no limits to the size of a seedling greenhouse, we must depend on the space we have. Ideally, the space for putting the seedlings should be bound to the surface of the garden. In general, a few square meters are enough, in which the verticality can also be exploited with several shelves, as long as this is done without sacrificing light.

Minimum layout

If the nursery is in the form of a real fruit greenhouse, no matter how small, it is useful to put one or more working tables inside we have to seed and then keep all the containers lined up there. Obviously, if it is an artisanal nursery, the work will be done outside and no furniture is necessary except the spaces to put the seedling trays.


Having a heated seedbed can be very useful to advance planting and save a few weeks. A sheltered room with walls that let in light already tends to create a higher temperature than the room, but sometimes heating helps. In order not to waste energy unnecessarily, it is better to heat a small hearth so that the seeds germinate. For this you can use inexpensive mats, we entered the article on how to heat the seedbed.

What it takes to sow

Once the structure is built, we’ll get to work, so let’s see what we need for planting: from pots to the ground, to seeds.

Seedling containers

For planting we can start stocking all the black bins that were sold to us with the previous plants, but you may need to buy more. The black color of these trays has the function of quickly heating the soil inside and accelerating the birth of seedlings. In theory, it can be planted in any small container of small size, perforating the bottom to avoid dangerous stagnation of excess water, on a small scale it can be used, for example, pots of yoghurt recycling, in practice, however, to optimize space, it is better to choose the classic seedling trays, which are inexpensive and allow better organization of the seedbed.

An environmentally sustainable alternative to the classic plastic or polystyrene trays is the ground blocking system, which also has great advantages on the cultivation side.

Substrate: what soil to use

For substrates it’s good do not choose the classic universal potting soil , because it contains a thick, non-functional material to put small seeds in a jar. The professional soil for planting it is finer and therefore better, but over time you can also learn to use less soil by mixing it with previously sieved soil and compost.

A good recipe for ground for self-production consists of mixing garden soil, silica sand and brown peat (a third can be made for each component). The use of earthworm humus in the substrate is also positive, in addition to the fact that nutrition helps rooting.

There are also ready-to-use peat discs (like the ones you can find here), which are a much cheaper, although more practical, solution. Those who grow on the balcony can choose it because they don’t have such dirty soil bags around.

Best seeds

To grow an organic garden, you have to choose seeds that are from organic farming , or at least have not been tanned with fungicides. Ideally, it is also useful to learn how to save and reproduce the seeds of certain vegetables, so this operation is simple, such as tomatoes and peppers.

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