This post is a continuation of Part I. This post focuses on seed germination  popularly known as seed starting. Seed germination is the process of sprouting of a seed and beginning of  growth. A seed germinates when the environment around is conducive this includes temperature, light levels etc.. When the environment is not favorable for the seed to sprout, it simply waits. This waiting period is called period of Dormancy.

As gardeners, our job is to gently wake up the seed and remind it of its job!. Sounds like a piece of cake? You’ll see!.

You might be reading this because, you may want to sow some seeds and wanted some info or you have already sowed them and can’t wait to see them sprouting. In any case, you will not be disappointed, read on.

Before jumping into seed starting for a kitchen garden,, one need to decide a) What are we going to sow and where? b) Is it the right time of the year for that vegetable c) Will the vegetable grow where you live?. This might involve some googling or watch this blog. First week of every month I will be posting what can be sown that month.

Once you have decided the vegetable you can go ahead and start your seeds.

For seed starting, you need the following.


  • Seed starting mix
  • Seed starting tray/flat or a pot.
  • Seed labels ( optional if you have super memory)
  • Seeds
  • A polythene wrap and a rubber band.
  • A Marker.

Seed starting mix:

This can be soil based or soilless.  To make a soilless mix, you can simply use

  • plain coco peat,  Or plain perlite or plain vermiculite
  • Mixture of perlite and coco peat. and vermiculite Or
  • Fine topsoil free from fungus or any insects.
  • Sand. Or
  • Tissue paper ( Surprised?)



  • Take the seed starting medium which could be any of the ones listed above in your seed starting tray or pot.
  • Ensure, the tray has very good drainage and is free from any insect eggs or fungus.
  • Make the seed starting medium moist. It should not be very wet but just enough moisture. When you squeeze the medium in your palm, the clump that forms should stay in tact when you open your hand.  If it is little more moist, don’t worry, just make sure the container has good drainage.
  • Now, fill your tray with medium till an inch from the top brim. The depth of the tray must be atleast 2 inches. It helps if it is deeper the roots dont get pot bound.
  • Gently compact the surface to make sure it is flat.

It should look something like this. This tray you see is 10” X 9” X 4”. I found this in a plastic recycle shop. Works like a charm.

MyGarden 759

  • Now it is time to sow the seeds. Here you need to see one more thing. How it has to be sown? Few seeds need light to germinate and few needs to be covered ( darkness to germinate).  Oh My god.. I don’t know if it needs light or not ? now what do i do?  No worries. Just point your browser to this beautiful website. In this site, you get all the information necessary for seed starting a vegetable. Happy?
  • You have the seed starting tray filled with media ready. You can either make furrows and place the seeds in the furrows and cover them with soil or just place the seeds on the surface and just press them a little deeper with dibber or your little finger.. Make sure the seed doesnt stick with your finger and comes back to you when you lift it. ;). It should look like below. A depth of 0.5 cm is just fine for tomatoes and its relatives like chilly, eggplant, pepper etc.
  • Once the sowing is complete, simply cover the surface with a polythene cover and keep it in a bright location but away from direct sunlight. A balcony would be fine.  Watering is not necessary till germination happens. The cover will hold the moisture in.
  • Keep checking the tray for signs of germination. A small hook will show up first and then the cotyledons. When you see a sprout, remove the cover off the tray and keep the tray in a place where it gets good light. IMPORTANT: Any delay in keep them in a well lit place during this phase of its growth will cause seedlings to become tall, thin and spindly. They won’t make good yielders.

Here is a food parcel container hosting a few pepper seeds.

MyGarden 865

NOTE:I am posting pics of different veggie seedlings so that you get a general idea.


  • Now the seedlings are germinated, you are excited. But hang on, the game is not over yet. In fact it is the beginning 😉
  • As said above, keep them in a place that receives good sunlight. Gradually expose them to direct sunlight starting from few minutes the first day and then increasing day by day.
  • Do not let the media go dry. Any stress and this point of its growth is irrecoverable. The idea is to keep the media moist all the time. So dont let it dry and dont overwater either.
  • Water them with a half strength fertilizer. If organic, use compost tea otherwise use any complete water soluble fertilizer.(Use as per directions on the fertilizer label).
  • Keep the environment where the seedlings are kept, dry and airy. If not fungus might develop causing damp-off which can be very frustrating.

Here is how the seedlings look once they germinate.

MyGarden 770

Here is a pot that contains cabbage seedlings that just germinated.MyGarden 870

You can also grow seedlings in cups like this.Image(703)

The picture you see below is that of Okra( Ladies Finger). The top 4 of them are healthy seedlings and the bottom 2 are affected by Damping-off. You can see the weakened point in the stem that simply gives in. Damping off is caused by  a fungus.

MyGarden 670

Damping off ( Close up):

MyGarden 672

Damping off can be prevented in many different ways, including germination in dryer conditions with better air circulation, starting seedlings in sterilized soil, and/or using a fungicide for this purpose, either a commercial one or a homemade solution, such as one made garlic.

Trichoderma is a beneficial fungi and is used as a bio fungicide. It is used for seed and soil treatment for suppression of various diseases caused by fungus


Transplanting is when you move the seedling into its more permanent place for it to grow and produce yield. The target place can be a container or on the ground directly. Here we will focus on container only.

  • Select a container that is large enough to grow the transplant you are planting. Typically tomatoes, eggplant  need 20L containers. Cabbage and chilly can do with 10L approx.
  • Take  a container that has good drainage.
  • Choose a soil mix that has good amount of organic matter and rich in nutrients. Add a handful of bonemeal to the potting mix when you transplant.
  • Few plants can be planted more deeper ( burying a part of stem) and some have to be transplanted with their crown ( place where its stem connects with soil) at the soil surface.
  • Plant the transplant in the container and slightly compact the soil so that the plant anchors well.
  • Always transplant either early in the morning or in the evening.
  • Do NOT keep the container in direct full sunlight immediately after the transplant.
  • Water them with plain water after you are done with transplanting.

A typical plant ready for transplant will look like below.

seedlings ready for transplant. ( Actually. Late by a week).

MyGarden 868

Cabbage transplants

MyGarden 702

If you are growing in cell trays then your transplants might look like the ones below. A Capsicum transplant.

MyGarden 389

Brinjal Transplant

MyGarden 436

These pictures are to help you identify the stage at which a plant can be transplanted.

While I tried my level best to include much of the information related to seed starting, I might have missed something important that needs to coverage.

As always I welcome comments/suggestions.

Happy seed starting!


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65 Responses

  1. Hi GG:

    Thanks for this post. I know now the mistakes I have been doing! I read in some articles that tomato varieties – especially the heirloom ones – require two transplantations – i.e. seedling to a small pot and then to a larger pot. Is it necessary for Bangalore climate?

    Meena K

  2. Hi GG, Can i know in which part of the stage we need to use grow lights, if grown inside?(I started using them right after sowing the seeds) i made a LED grow light which looks like a space ship when seen from below 🙂 one can see the space ship at is the recipe for organic fungicide? (just small pieces of garlic directly sown in the soil or?….)

    • Hi Jayaveer,

      First hats off to you for stunning photographs and an ubercool grow light ;). loved it.
      You use growlight right after they peek out of the soil. Keep it close to the seedling and raise it as they grow. I had used onion+garlic mix with mixed results. They best way to avoid fungus is to bottom water and keep the surface just moist and keep the place well ventilated. I havent tried sowing garlic to prevent fungus. Try it and let us know
      good luck

  3. Hi Jayveer,
    Your garden looks beautiful.
    – How did you make the LED grow light?
    – What is the light intensity which you get?
    – What all color spectrums you get? (seems that you get more red which probably is suitable for flowering and fruiting)
    – What type of LED’s which are used and where do you get them?

    I am also planning to experiment with indoor growing using artificial light and wanted to use LED’s, however in India the readymade LED grow lights are not available (it seems) and you have to DIY.


    • Hi FG, below are the answers to your queries :). (Hope i am not hijacking your post GG?)

      – How did you make the LED grow light?
      Picked up a few LED strips, soldiered them in series, used a scrap cardboard box to fit them in and… volla! ready to use the grow light.
      – What is the light intensity which you get?
      I have used 4 strips of RED and 2 strips of BLUE, each strip have 16 LED(120/-) with the following wavelengths RED – 620-625nm, BLUE – 465-470nm, measuring the light intensity for grow lights will not be the same as compared to other lightning options, normal lights are measured using LUX or LUMENS which is totally useless in the case of grow lights(plants growth reacts to only certain light wavelengths) and should be measured in terms of PAR(Photosynthetically Active Radiation)
      – What all color spectrums you get? (seems that you get more red which probably is suitable for flowering and fruiting)
      I get RED and BLUE spectrums which will just do good but not the best 🙂 but my next project will be the best with the following spectrums RED:YELLOW:ORANGE:UV:BLUE with the ratio 7:7:4:1:4
      – What type of LED’s which are used and where do you get them?
      You will get LEDs in different types(Rounded,Flux,High Power,..)/sizes(mm)/output(mcd,lumens)/wavelengths(nm)/Angle(degree)/prices(Rs,$,..), i used Flux LED because of high angle. The well known electronics shop for all the DIY’ers is OM Electronics in SP Road(Bangalore) its just in the entrance when you enter SP road. If one wants to shop there be ready to be neglected as most of the students come there and the place is crowded, i suggest to visit the shop after 2:30 where there will be hardly any customers and mainly the owner who have knowledge about LED’s will be present to provide you with alternatives. If anyone is interested i will post some links on where to get LEDs online(import), calculators,resources,…

      • Thanks Jayaveer, for detailed explanation.
        I would try to build 1 for me, I am based in Pune, will have to look for the electronics shop here.
        Are you planning to use it just for germination or for the full cycle.

        GG wouldn’t mind any discussion related to gardening taking place in his blog. Right GG?


        • Hey FG,

          I didn’t expect this question from you. There is no problem whatsoever. Please go ahead and discuss. Its a great learning experience for everyone.. Esp anyone who googles and land up here gets to go back with whole lot of learning..
          I welcome that.

        • Hi FG,The current one is just used for germination but the one which i mentioned for my new year project will be used for the full cycle.
          There are so many tests on the net which proves LED lightning option is way better than any other traditional lightning (Some tests proves better in yield/better in not consuming more power/better in not burning up the plants with the heat generated/better in providing precise spectrum which are helpful to the plants/….).
          In the below test we can see the yield is almost double by using LED (probably… the test might be rigged to promote their product but since i am strongly partial to LED i don’t think so it has been rigged :)).

          and below articles tell the usage of LEDs by NASA to grow Lettuce in space

          So… here are some of the sites where one can import different types of LEDs to India

          Below website is my favorite 🙂 it calculates and gives you a circuit diagram on how many LEDs can be connected in series/parallel and what will be their requirements.

          some more gyan from the same site which every one should know about

          For more DIY projects point to

          Some sites where one can import seeds to India

          I have imported some Pitcher plant seeds (Mosquito repellents are not working :)) and Morning Glories(Kniola’s Black Knight) from “SeedsandMore”, the shipping take a week or two, their support is amazing and i can say 90% of the glories have germinated i didn’t find the same survival rate when i bought alyssum seeds from Lalbagh.
          Pitcher plants have got a cold stratification period of 3 months so once they have sprouted i will post the same.

          Note: Initial costs for developing some thing using LEDs will be huge compared to other options but as time passes (I will not say “You will get used to it :)”) you can see the returns and not to mention it is GREEN Tech.

          Let me know if there are any resources regarding this subject!.

          Happy soldiering 🙂

          • Great Info Thanks Jayaveer,

            I have become bery much interested in these two tomato varieties:

            1. Tiny Tim

            2. ITALIAN CHERRY

            and would like to purchase them online from ebay.
            Have ever tried purchasing seeds online?

            Does it actuall cost as mentioned – product cose + shipping or there are any other charges also?

            GG, would like to comment on these varieties?


          • Hi FG,

            I had a variety of Dwarf tomato and wasn’t too impressed with it. The Italian cherry looks very good. But the catch there is it has just 10 seeds. We don’t know how viable the seeds are. Try getting seed packets with more seeds.
            I am little skeptical about shipping tomatoes to india( may be my mental block or the customs dept dont know which one)If you can find “Cherry tomato” from Pahuja seeds, its good enough too. I tried that one and had plenty of harvest. PM me if you need that.


          • Hi FG,

            The first link doesn’t seems to Ship to India, but the other one looks fine. I have ordered some “Bonsai Seeds” from Ebay most of the shipments have just the actual price and the handling charges, i ordered them 2 days back so still got a week to wait, i suggest order seeds from the stores which are closer to India like Malaysia, Singapore, China, Honk Kong,… where the shipment time is reduce to a week. Why not order from “tradewindsfruit”, they got a vast collection of everything and they just don’t sell seeds but do some research on them :).


          • Hey Jayaveer,

            I am confused by the term ‘Bonsai Seeds’. Is it the particular variety of trees used for bonsai ? Bonsai is the way you grow it right?. Am i missing something here?


          • Hi GG,
            Bonsai is normally an art of subjecting a normal tree/plant to “Dwarfism” by utilizing the techniques like shaping, watering, and repotting in various styles of containers, on the other hand… it can be achieved naturally too with the help of a fungus called “Apiosporina collinsii”.

            When a normal tree/plant is attacked by this fungus the genetics of the seeds are subjected to “Dwarfism”, the sad part is… these genetically affected plants/trees rarely provide seeds, but… when these provided seeds are cultivated back they grow naturally as dwarf plant without any of the techniques i mentioned before. These plants/trees are called “Witch broom” and “Yatsubusa” in Japanese.

            The seeds which i obtained through EBay might not be affected by this fungus, but what i mean by “Bonsai Seeds” is… the seeds which are normally used for Bonsai cultivation.

          • Hey Jayaveer,

            Thanks for the reply. It is very educational. Keep us posted on your bonsai experiment.

        • Hi FG,The current one is just used for germination but the one which i mentioned for my new year project will be used for the full cycle.
          There are so many tests on the net which proves LED lightning option is way better than any other traditional lightning (Some tests proves better in yield/better in not consuming more power/better in not burning up the plants with the heat generated/better in providing precise spectrum which are helpful to the plants/….).
          In the below test we can see the yield is almost double by using LED (probably… the test might be rigged to promote their product but since i am strongly partial to LED i don’t think so it has been rigged :)).

          and below articles tell the usage of LEDs by NASA to grow Lettuce in space

      • Hey Jayaveer,

        You are hijacking my post and i feel offended… oh come on!! I am kidding.. You are at GG’s where valuable information from anyone is most welcome. I really loved the whole explanation you gave . I should thank you for having come forward to share your knowledge. Feel free to bring anything here!…

        There is so much information available in your post. I loved it.

        Great writeup.

  4. hey gg!

    please help .im finding it tough to get transplant plants from the germinating tray to the setup .the roots are snapping .how do i do that .besides how long should i wait for it in the germinating tray.i planted chillies .after 2 weeks its 3 inchs (only 2 leaf and a long stem ) .pleae help me out .waiting for your reply

    • hey guys !

      there is so much info here ..all you guys are experts already!i guess if we all meet once and share photos and plans of system ,even the experience ,i assure you everybody will learn something out of it ,and it will be heaven for newbies like me .

  5. Hi GG,
    I am having trouble in germinating the beans seeds. I use only coco-peat, I sow the seed half inch below the surface. But 90% of the time the seat decays and I end up with nothing, I also did lot of variation while watering but no use. Until today I could only able to get 3 plants out of 15 seed trials. I could not find much help from internet either. Can you please help me to know if there is any other process to get beans germinated easily?

    • Hi Sunil,

      May be i can help here. I find it hard to believe that beans seeds are giving trouble in seed starting. They have consistently given me good results every time. If you are using the same seeds in all your trials, probably it’s time to change the seeds. Also, i find it useful to soak them over night before sowing and the last time (when i had great results) i just covered the seeds with grass clippings. So may be you can try the same with dried leaves or something similar instead of covering with half inch of soil. Water moderately just to keep the medium wet. Lastly if you are looking for some 10-15 seeds may be i can share some seeds which i have saved last season. Do drop me a mail at or leave a comment on my blog page.

    • Hi Sunil,

      I second Raja here. May be soaking the seeds overnight will help. In my previous sowing, I soak the seeds in a small plastic cup with water and add two-three drops of hydrogen peroxide. My bean started throwing out roots(radicle) while in the plastic cup itself. Where did you buy the seeds from?


  6. Hi GG,
    I just started out with my vegetable garden. I have sowed carrot, cucumber, cabbage and tomatoes in the seed tray. It has been a week and only a few cucumber seeds have germinated :(. I have placed the seed tray on the window sill so that it does not get direct sunlight. I am wondering if the cold weather is the reason for the slow germination. Is there something I can do? Am I missing to do anything more?

    • HI Aarthi,

      If your seed sources are good then I would wait for some more time(May be another week). You are right. This cold weather delays germination. Keeping your seedlings on a warm surface like refridgerator top.( the old ones get warm on the top).
      Just give it a weeks time. I got my pepper seedlings germinate after 12 days..


  7. Hi GG,
    One thing you might need to mention in ‘Pre-germination:’ is that the medium needs to be moist/wet initially when planting?
    One of my friends followed your instructions to the tee and insisted that you did not mention any watering the medium till post-germination. So when the ‘guru’ says something like that, I cannot argue 😀

    • Asha,

      My bad. I stand corrected and Thanks a lot for pointing this out. Also let your friend know, that I am just another gardener who did many more mistakes and is no guru ;-). The post is updated with the required info.

      I will make sure from now, I will review the posts twice before hitting the button.
      Thanks once again. BTW How are the lettuces coming up?


      • Hi GG, They lettuce are doing great. I had the seeds spread out in 4 pots. In two pots, my just-germinated seedlings got wiped out. A night vigil with a torch revealed snails as the culprit. I now have them in two pots. Growing nicely, though a bit crowded in terracotta pots. I have been thinning them and having them 🙂 Here are the pics of lettuce –
        The tomatoes too are coming along well.

        Thanks again for everything. Like so many mentioned, its your blog that has helped clearing a lot of doubts and inspiring. Keep up the great work.

  8. Hi,
    I have a question, it may be a little stupid to an experienced gardener like you or has an obvious answer.
    If I am ready with a big pot in which the final plant will grow, is it necessary to start the seed in a small container/ tray. Say for brinjal, wouldn’t it be easier to plant the seed in a big pot with the necessary soil/ cocopeat/compost etc and to let it grow peacefully rather than uproot it for transplanting.
    I hope you will reply to this basic question

    • Hi Chitra,

      Thanks for stopping by. No question is stupid. Many have asked this interesting question.

      Coming to your example, lets say you have a big pot where the final plant will grow. You sow the seed in that pot and you wait for few days for it to germinate. Lets say it doesn’t germinate. Then you sow one more and wait. Assume that too fails. You have lost time waiting for the seed to germinate.Even if it is 10days time for a seed to germinate. You waited twice and its almost 20 days of time that we lost waiting. Also think of this case where the seed germinates but not so strong seedling. The problem only multiplies if you want more number of plants growing in pots. Say you are planning a vegetable garden seriously and you need 100 pepper plants. If you take 100 pots and sow a seed in each, based on how good the seed is, you might get 70-80% germination. Now you re-seed those pots that didn’t germinate. Those re-seeded plants will lag behind the originally planned ones.

      For these reasons, transplanting is practiced. You can grow seedlings in a controlled place that is free from insects/pests. Get them to a good shape and then select the best out of them; Transplant them into the “final” pots where they will spend their lifetime yielding you good vegetables.

      Hope I answered your question. If you need any more clarification please write back.


      • Hi,
        Thanks for the extremely lucid explanation.
        What about okra? Many sites mention that okra does not like being transplanted, so I thought I will take the safe way out and plant directly into the big pots.
        I may not have the heart to thin out the seedlings as they recommend, so maybe I can try transplanting the extra seedlings, if any.

        • Hi Chitra,

          Glad to be of help. Yes, Okra doesn’t like being transplanted. However, you can grow them in small pots and then when you need to move it to its final pot just invert the small pot and without disturbing it much you can pot it in the bigger pot. As long as you don’t disturb its root, you can try transplant them. In other words, transplant them without their knowledge 😉
          If you don’t thin them, all of them will fight for food and none of them will yield.

          good luck

  9. Hi GG,

    I came across your blog a couple of days ago and day after day there is nothing
    I want to do after a hard days work, but to read your blog.
    I’ve been growing bonsai from around ten years now but vegetables…No!
    I was least interested in growing vegetables but after reading your blog, I’ve been inspired now and I have already taken the plunge. I got quite a few starter soils.

    1. He suggested I use a combination of coco peat + perlite + vermiculite + red soil + amruth vermicompost in a 1:1:1:1:1 ratio (I’m bad at math, hope thats the way you write it.)
    a)Is this the way you use to make a good pot mix? or do you have a different combi?

    2. I’ve already planted seeds in a 98 cell tray full of coco peat only fully following your instructions including covering it with a plastic bag . But I’m not sure if it will be too dry for the seeds to germinate. The cocopeat label says each block of cocopeat should be mixed with 4 liters of water- which is the only water I have added so far.
    Now do I need to add additional water to it? or would that be enough for the seeds to germinate…

    I know you are a busy guy but I hope you can get back to me soon cos I would like
    to start off in the right way.
    Thank you again for writing such a wonderful blog!

    • Hi Pradeep,

      Welcome to my blog and very happy to hear that you are hooked to it. Yes. Venkatesh is a nice guy.

      For soil mix, I use red soil + (sand or cocopeat) + compost. For my soilless mix, I just use cocopeat. If available I mix perlite. But perlite/vermiculite are not mandatory.

      You can water after the seeds are sown. Based on how moist the media, you might want to add some water. It is ok to water in addition. Make sure there is good drainage. If you are using a98 cell tray there is drainage hold already in place.

      Good luck on vegetable gardening.

      Nice to hear that you have experience with Bonsai. It might be useful for many of us.

      Happy gardening

      • Hi GG,

        Thank you for the quick reply, I verified that the 98 cell trays indeed have drainage holes and just sprinked a few drops of water over them.
        Besides that the palak has just about sprouted. But I’m kinda lost…Now do I remove the polythene bag immediately or should it grow an inch or show up true leaves. Can I wait till most of the seeds have germinated or should the cover be removed if just 1/10 of the seeds have germinated. These may be silly questions but if I’m on the right path, I may have a competing blog and show off cooler vegetables than you someday 🙂

        Btw I have a nice HD cam (I stay in madiwala) , I’m willing to shoot any demo’s that you would be willing to share with us. Like for example “How to start a kitchen garden”, just the basics and then more tutorials as time goes on. I could help uploading them on to youtube and this way newbies like me can get the right start. Let me know if you are interested…

        Thanks again!

        • Now that your spinach has sprouted, you can remove the polythene and the rest of them will sprout eventually. Keep the tray moist and don’t let it run dry. You are on the right path. Happy to hear that you will show off cooler veggies someday!.

          Thanks for offering to help me out with videos. I could use such a help. I will PM you regarding this.


  10. GG,

    Could you kindly advise as to how we should store seeds after planting a few.
    I had been to DOH and I noticed that they were storing it in a freezer/ refrig unit.

    Besides I picked up three varieties of tomatoes from them, Broad Ripple, Tommy Toe and High country. Hope I can grow tomatoes as good as you do.

    • Hi Pradeep,

      While you can store it in the freezer, it is really not necessary to store them that way. You can keep them in sealed container in a dry place. Age of the seeds depends on the vegetable.
      Wishing you the best on growing tomatoes.

  11. Boy Am I hooked to you your blog or what!!?

    It seems lot of my plants are affected by what you call damping (happens due to fungus, if I understand correctly). How can you tell for sure if this is fungal infection (in the soil?). Is recovery possible at all?

    Thanks much

    • Ha ha. 3 comments in a day. I guess you are hooked.

      Damping off is observed mostly in seedlings. Seedlings tend to fall off as the stem that joins the root rots. The seedling cotyledon will be proper with no symptoms but they will wilt and die since the stem is cut off/weakened. Use infection free soil. Cocopeat is a nice option.
      Seedlings that are affected cannot be recovered. Spraying a fungicide will help.

  12. Hello GG
    Inspired by your blog and I started my vegetable garden with tomato, egg plant and bottle guard. There are lot of tomatoes, 2-3 brinjals and bottle guard. I’m very happy to see my cute garden. Thanks to you. To improve my gardening skills I have two questions 1. I want to use only organic pesticides, other than neem oil is there any thing else available? bcos there are lot of small worms in the bottle guard and only neem oil+ soap powder is not really controlling them?
    2. What fertilizer(organic) are using? and what should be frequency to apply the fertilizer?


    • Hi Padmapriya,
      Great to hear that you have a nice garden :). To control worms you can try chilli+garlic spray. To begin, it is best to handpick all the worms from the plant and check the bottom of the leaves for insect eggs.
      I use vermicompost/horsemanure, bonemeal etc. I mix compost and bonemeal when I make the pot mix. Frequency depends on the plant. Every couple of weeks should be fine. It is good to fertilize the plant before it flowers.

  13. Hi GG !

    Curious to know, how do you use tissue paper as seed starters ? Also, need some help with gardening supplies. Do you know any good ones in Pune ? Where do I find seed starters here in Pune ?
    And thanks for your inspirational blog 🙂


    • Moist tissue paper acts as a great seed started when seeds are kept inside and the paper is rolled. Seed starting trays are available in most garden shops

  14. Hi – GG
    Nice and simple way to explain method of sowing seeds. I am trying to sow Italian Basil but failed. This time, seeds are germinated but donot find growth.
    Any reason ?
    I am also trying to get Italian Basil seeds from you too. I hope to have success some time. I have with me Thai basil and having excellent growth.
    Once again, I find your website useful.

    • Thanks for stopping by. Seedlings not growing is because of lack of sunlight or nutrients. Ensure they get these and the seedlings will spring up 🙂

      Let me know when you want collect the Basil and I can exchange it with Thai Basil if you have them ..

      Happy to hear that my site is very helpful.

  15. Dear Geek Gardner,
    I am a beginner and found your blog and related links very useful in the Indian context. Apart from your regular work/profession, spending time in your garden; writing such a detailed blog is nothing short of heroic. In my own way I would like to suggest and share so that your blog can be better beneficial. I am also very concerned and bothered about the environment and nature related issues plaguing our ‘civilization’. Following are some thoughts and suggestions;
    W.r.t. the above link, you suggest a web site for knowing about which seeds need darkness or light to germinate. However, I don’t find this particular info., though there was lot of other info. Also, the aforesaid website appears to be oriented towards US or European climate and adds to a lot of avoidable mental static for a beginner like me. Furthermore, in the succeeding paras of your blog, there is more or less a standard procedure for darkness and light during dormancy and immediately after germination. To my mind this is a contradiction and needs clarity, as adds to complexity. You could, for eg., add a column w.r.t. dormancy and germination light/dark in your sowing charts itself, dramatically reducing this ambiguity/complexity.

    The link referring to the garlic fungicide goes to wikipedia and I did not find any recipe/procedure for making it at home. Probably, you could mention it directly on your blog. This natural fungicide is a critical input as also being organic.

    The soil or substrate used for germination, can be recycled and used for germination or potting or both?

    Finally, many comments and suggestions (by readers) could be trimmed and consolidated into your main write up. It will make it more accurate and easier to put into practice. Most beginners get easily put off and demotivated by complexity and info load, also cuts into the core joy of DIY, watching the growth and enjoying the fruits.

    Such measures would really go a long way in adding more to the gardening community.
    Rajiv Aggarwal

  16. Dear Geek Gardener,
    Planted my 1st seeds today in a nursery tray. Just some thoughts: under your heading “Procedure>pre germination”; I used Keltech Soilrite mix, which is ready mix of vermiculite, perlite and Irish peat. Since it does’nt bind like soil and thus does not hold water, though it remains somewhat wet; becomes difficult to assess interior moisture level, which in soil can be judged by feeling the surface. Is also spongy and pressing down gives some a little idea of water deeper in; but that would damage the seed and germination process. Just to sound impressive, I had brought very good quality seeds from Annadana, Buddha Garden Farm and Pebble Garden (all at Auroville), where I also had the pleasure of volunteering on some hands on farm work and learning the basics of organic farming. Sorry to bother.
    Best regards
    Rajiv Aggarwal

  17. Hi GG,
    I stumbled on your blog recently and spent 5 hrs on the first day to read most of the posts. I’ve a small garden and I was planning to extend it and was searching for good supplies and thats how i stumbled on your blog. Great blog.

    I know you are more into vegetable gardening, but could you also post something about flower gardening. When you say “nutrition” for plants, what are they exactly? Coz, when we go out shopping for fertilizers, we really don’t know what to buy. We just buy what the show owner suggests. A post on this will be of great help (If there is a post already, pls let me know the link)

    Happy Gardening.

  18. hi GG,
    your post is very informative.Will take care of these points when i’m planting seeds.
    Well i just sowed tomato seeds in a seed tray with compost(jaivik shakti).waiting for it to it ok to start a seed with compost?

    • Hi divya,

      I know its a late response. sorry.

      Compost has different meanings in different countries. Some places it means potting mix. Here it means a fertilizer. So you cannot start a seed in compost alone. Chances are it might get burnt.
      use coir pith and compost in 50:50 ratio.

  19. Hi,
    Am a tentative balcony gardener with a lot of hits-and-misses to my credit. One reason for that is my inability to prune plants when needed. I don’t have the heart to do so! Ok ok, i know i sound foolish! Is pruning really necessary in vegetable plants grown in pots in a balcony? For ornamentals, I know it leads to lushness but that is just for aesthetic reasons. Or is it?

    Also, you suggested tissue paper for germinating. Will the wee saplings be able to break through the tissue?

    Is there some place near malleswaram, sadashivnagar, rajajinagar where I can pick up cocopeat, red soil et al?

    And, good job !

  20. Hello – GG

    Have been reading your blogs – It seems you have already struck gold. As for me i am thinking to start mu journey with humble corriander. Here are my questions :

    Potting Mix

    1. Will only coco peat be sufficient or i need to mix it with compost 50:50.
    2. When you say compost – does it mean fertilizer – i visited a store here it was selling coc peath – that what was written on th epack – in deconstituted form and also in blocks – whic one is better


    3. will corriander need any further fertilizer than the originla potting mix that i mentioned at 1 above.

    when i asked the store about compost – he showed me something saying cow’s manure – is this a replacement for compost?

    More question when i hear from you.
    You must have guessed…. I am just starting – ensuring that i have minimum knowledge.


    From Mumbai.

  21. Hello Geekgardener!…Amazing to see so many enthusiastic people inclining towards gardening and its myriad forms. My name is Satvik, and i assist Citizenmatters news magazine with community outreach, events, etc…We at citizenmatters would like to publish a series of articles on Gardening, be it terrace, organic etc…
    It will be a six month, 2 editions and 24 issues publishing deal. Our magazine reaches about 40,000 households every fortnight and the subscription is free. So, in view of this, we would like to partner with you to start the gardening coloumn. Please do get back to me, and, we will have it taken forward.

    My contact number is .


  22. Hi GG,

    I am impressed witht he post. We have just started gardening in our place. As mentioned by chitra I have sowed in big pot though i got 3 bindis from the plan, it was not tall enough. first bindi strated gorwing when plat was abt 6-7 inches tall. Please let me know is this right. :). Since we are beginners, I need to know how do I grow beans, and brinjal also.

  23. Hi GG

    I am a novice based in chennai, and wanted to start a kitchen garden. Found your blog, and bought cocopeat, mixed with organic manure, and now i have small seedlings sprouted (ey!) I am now not clear about transplanting… i understood from your reply to Chithra that you do need to transplant to a small containers before moving it to pots… but what should it grow on? should it be cocopeat or should we now have them planted in soil?

    Sorry for such kind of basic questions…

    Thanks again


  24. hi friend
    i gone through ur site.
    i also have a small veg garden. bu space is very less 1.5mts x 3 mts
    it is completely organic cultivating.
    now hope to start a earthworm compost bin. i think ur guidence i’ll get from u from ur site too.

    with regards.

  25. Hi GG
    Nice posts! I am from bangalore, i have 2 balconies in my apt, but they do not get direct sunlight 🙁 can u pl suggest any veggie which can grow with only the warmth & brightness of sun & not direct sunlight. Aloevera & tulsi are the only ones which grow properly. I also tried coriander, methi & green chillies with some success. All seeds from my kitchen only, didn’t know where to buy, but now that u have mentioned garden guru shop, lemme try there….quite close to my home.

    Pl help with the query.


  26. Such a lovely blog GG. A colleague recommended it to me after I expressed my frustration over not being able to grow a thing. Having said that, I cannot expect much at this point given that I only just started.

    I want to have a little herb garden and meant to get started with rosemary, mint and lemongrass. I read up online and saw a few videos on youtube. I got these from the supermarket, cut small cuttings, and have kept them in shallow glasses for them to grow roots. This is what I saw online. But it’s been 4 days and I see nothing. Is this method right for Bangalore weather? Or do I need to try something else?

    Thanks again for such a beautiful website.


  27. Hi GG,
    Would you know where in Bangalore I can find plastic recycle shops? I’m starting a vegetable garden in my balcony and I loved your planter ideas.



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