* Pots or trays must be scrupulously clean. Wash containers in a 10-per-cent bleach solution to eliminate bacteria.
* Always read the instructions on the seed packet, partifcularly for sowing and germination times, as they can vary by several weeks.
* When sowing, mix tiny seeds such as petunia or impatiens with sand so you can tell where you have sprinkled them on the soil.
* Seeds require moist, warm (18° to 24°C) soil to germinate. Use a waterproof heating mat available at most garden centres to provide bottom heat.
##Caring for Seedlings##
* Seedlings need 14 to 16 hours of light a day, so place them under flourescent lights. Keep lights no more than an inch or two away from the tops of seedlings for sturdy growth.
* To prevent damping off (a fungal disease that makes seedlings collapse), use a fan for good air circulation and don't overwater. Water from the bottom by sitting the trays in about half an inch of water in larger pans for 20 minutes.
* Thin out crowded seedlings by snipping off unwanted ones at the base with scissors; don't pull them out as you might damage the roots of adjacent seedlings.
* When pricking out* (transplanting) seedlings, handle them by their leaves. Damaged leaves will regrow; damaged stems rarely recover.
* Fertilize seedlings with gentle organic fertilizer at half strength. Lightly brushing your hands across the seedlings every day helps to make them stronger.
* When seedlings are ready to be put into the garden, add some transplanting solution to the last watering before planting to encourage rapid root growth.
*** Definition: Pricking out**
Transplanting small seedlings to individual pots from the pot or tray in which the seeds were sown.