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Episode 862: Seed Starting For Beginners

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Today, we talk about starting your garden plants from seed. We will take this from a beginners perspective and sprinkle in “Innovations” for those of you who are old hands at it. We will also cover our usual Monday Segments: Tales From the Prepper Pantry, Weekly Shopping Report from Joe, Frugality Tip, Operation Independence.

Featured Event: Feb 25 RV Solar Installation Workshop, $50, Westmoorland, TN, https://www.livingfreeintennessee.com/event/rv-solar-install-workshop/ 

Sponsor 1: DiscountMylarBags.com

Sponsor 2: HollerRoast.com

Tales from the Prepper Pantry

  • Mason Jar Storage Challenges
  • Refining the apothecary
  • All The Meat
  • Fat Tuesday Crepes

Weekly Shopping Report

Frugality Tip from Red Fyer Media (Rebecca)

For your DIY Construction projects

Get free lumber, hardware, plumbing PEX, Electrical supplies & even tools! 

Building contractors, especially smaller ones who build 1-5 houses at a time, have to pay clean up crews to haul off the excess lumber & they rent the dumpsters & sometimes have to pay extra by weight & to be emptied.

If you see a house is being built, stop by and talk to the contractor about dumpster diving or collecting left overs. They will usually say ok, as long as you promise to go by after the crew is done for the day and they also want you to guarantee you are not going to sue them if you hurt yourself.  

Every contractor I have talked to is THANKFUL that I am taking stuff away and they don’t have to pay to haul off. 

Here”s a short list of what I have gotten for free that way:

1/2 pex – appx 150 ft because crews don’t like to mess with the last 20-30 ft of the roll stuck in the plastic.

3 strand wire (at least 150′ from 4 different houses. They are short runs, maybe 2′ – 7′, but most DIY homestead projects use a lot of short runs and a few long ones.  Super heavy duty wire like for 220 – enough for any DIY project.

Lumber! 2x4s, 2×6, 2×8, trim pieces for both indoor and outdoor – most NEW lumber that was extra at the end of a house build. Right now I have 20 20′ 1×4 cedar boards that were left overs for ONE house.

Other items:

Insulation, pipe insulation.

Door hardware, cabinet hardware, plumbing hardware, electrical boxes (like on power poles) All NEW!

Operation Independence

  • Thoughts on building yourself and your health into your schedule

Main topic of the Show: Starting Seeds for Beginners

First: Why try?

  • Cheaper than buying them (But be prepared to buy plants)
  • Increases self reliance – if you can start the seedlings, you can save the seeds and be relatively confident that you will be able to use them
  • It’s fun

Next: What can go wrong

  • You might fail and not end up growing exactly what you want that year
  • Pests can wipe them out
  • You spend tons of money on equipment and fail and walk away – so dont do that

About failure:

  • Failure happens – prepare for it
  • Have a backup plan

<Story: extra tomatoes and holey hoses>

Things to cover

Seeds: Heirloom, vs hybrid and its all okay

What to grow via seedlings: Tomatoes, peppers, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, lettuce, loofahs

  1. Squashes and cucumbers less good but ok
  2. Dont do peas, beans, carrots and other root veggies

1) Light, light, light. Generally a window isn’t going to have strong enough light. By far, this is most common pitfall.

Burrina Grow Lights – https://www.amazon.com/Barrina-Spectrum-Daylight-Equivalent-Greenhouse/dp/B0B3CM9FYK/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1CVUC8DV4MO08&keywords=burrina%2Bgrow%2Blight%2Bbar&qid=1707764491&sprefix=barrina%2Bgrow%2Blight%2Bba%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-1-spons&ufe=app_do%3Aamzn1.fos.006c50ae-5d4c-4777-9bc0-4513d670b6bc&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGY&th=1


Lighting – and what to do if you dont have any

  1. Proper, full spectrum lighting uncomfortably close to the plants for 12-16 hours
  2. Go for it anyway and be prepared for leggy plants

2) Soil temperature. Too low, and you’ll have bad germination rates and weak seedlings. 

Heating source – and what to do if you dont have any

  1. The mats
  2. Stability
  3. My greenhouse story and why we germinate indoors
  4. Top of the fridge or other warm corner

Seedling mats



3) Consistent moisture, not overwatering. Dampening off and failure to thrive despite good lighting is generally due to overwatering.

Watertable method – redneck style

Plant tray:





  1. Deep pots (3-4 inches)
  2. Start either directly in pots or in germinating trays and how to do each
  3. Cups work and are cheap
  4. A word on watering
  5. A word on the peat pucks – they can work
  6. A word on peat pots – they suck balls

4) Potting mix. Find one you get good results with and stick to it. You want good moisture holding capacity but also a light enough texture that pricking out and potting up is easy.

Potting Mix

Soil mix

  1. Dont make your own soil – and a hack here
  2. Buy a good one from the store – miracle grow makes one, walmart has an organic one – get the stuff made for seedlings or get potting soil that is “small” and not filled with barkdust.
  3. Don’t make your own soil, dont make your own soil, dont make your own soil
    1. Unless your working with mike vertrees or otherwise ensuring success through testing dont make your own soil
  4. Next year, feel free to try your own soil but even then go halvsies on it to test before your commit
  5. Know that story I told you about the failed tomatoes – she made her own soil!

Some first year advice: choose 1 or 2 things and just try them out. And dont be sad if you end up buying seedlings – try again next year. It will work at some point.

Borrow from a friend

Visit nurseries for their extras – we ended up with 100 tray carrier things that way.

Make it a great week!

GUYS! Don’t forget about the cookbook, Cook With What You Have by Nicole Sauce and Mama Sauce.