I’ve been asked countless times how do you know how deep to plant seeds.   A simple and very effective way to figure out how deep to plant or how much dirt to cover seeds is to gauge the SIZE of the seeds.

A simple rule we follow is: “The size of the seed is how deep you cover with soil.”   Quite elementary, my dear, and very simple to remember if you are without instructions on the back of your seed packet.

There are a number of different types of seeds that require different conditions to grow. Some seeds may need light to grow, some may need darkness, and. believe it or not,  some may even need to be charred by fire. There are so many variations in the ideal conditions to stimulate seed germination you need to ask yourself:  How does seed size impact the process of germination? Do certain size seeds need special conditions?

Very small seeds usually are planted at a very shallow depth.  They will receive 10% to 20% of the light incident on the soil surface.  The reason for the shallow planting is that these seeds have very few reserves for producing shoots. If they were planted any deeper, the shoots would not manage to go the full distance. Plants that germinate like this are termed “positively photoblastic.”

As an aside, the above article states that many weeds are also “positively photoblastic.” Their seeds can enter a state of dormancy after being worked into the soil or, unfortunately, when inadvertently put into the compost heap.  Many farmers will insist on working the soil at night to reduce the possibility of weeds occurring as there is no light to trigger the seed germination.  If the soil or compost heap is turned over once and exposed to the light, the seeds will awaken and you will now have weeds to contend with but a layer of mulch will deprive the weeds of the needed light.  We have used mulching here extensively for over 25 years.  In fact, that is how we started all this by smothering our back lawn (er weeds) and  front lawn with a layers of newspapers and mulch.   Now, we are about a 1 1/2 feet higher than our neighbor!  Yeah, I know I said something of the sort in our award winning little film – check out the clip where it shows me on top of the compost pile!

With it feeling more like Spring than Winter, I’ve been busy planting hundreds of soil blocks full of peas, greens and more!  And of course, watering MORE than I should for this time of year – that’s bad!   Normally the hose & I  takes a hiatus during winter, but not this year.

I’m really worried, with winter not shaping up, there’s no rain.  It’s sooo dry, it’s scary – really scary!   We are praying that we get some desperately rain and snow – and soon!

:: Resources ::

Heirloom & Organic Seeds – featuring our fave varieties that we sow

Soil Block Maker – the most used garden tool, I make thousands every year!

Making Soil Blocks – a highly efficient way to start your seedlings

Check out our GARDEN supplies too!


  1. Natalie V2 says:

    Me, too…. should we dance for rain?
    We need something!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      I’m for dancing! 🙂

  2. martin johnstone, outer hebrides says:

    thanks for sharing tips. I really reallywish icould send you some of our endless winter rain. 🙂

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      blow harder! 🙂

  3. Ginger says:

    We are having a lovely winter. My determination to enjoy the snow this year is paying off. But the only thing I have growing is indoor greens and sprouts. I enjoy farming in my kitchen and dreaming on paper about my summer outdoor garden. Don’t get scared about the rain; it will come. Fear is of the adversary. Keep moving forward with faith.

  4. Stacy says:

    Hear, hear! Watering my plants is NOT how I prefer to spend my New Year’s holiday…

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      Totally! Anyhow, I got your email…. just swamped right now with a backlog of emails… promise I will get to reply soon!

  5. Nebraska Dave says:

    Justin, we have had one skiff of snow in January and only have .02 inch of moisture. With the month almost half over we are way behind our .70 inch of moisture for the month. The temperatures are more normal with 9 degrees this morning and a high of 24. The windy is the issue. Gusts of wind up to 45 MPH have made the wind chill brutal. The temperatures will be back into the 40s and 50s by the weekend.

    I just bought the last of the things needed to build the seed starting station in my basement. I have only one other thing to get and that is a small clip on fan to simulate wind in the wind less basement. I’ve heard that if a gentle breeze blows across budding plants it will strengthen them and keep them from getting leggy and spindly. I have the shelves and the lights with sunlight bulbs. A timer will give the plants the needed light for the length of time needed. I will use expandable peat pellets for my small seed starting operation. If things expand like I want in the next couple years, I’ll have to look into one of those soil block makers.

    Have a great seed starting day from brrr cold windy Nebraska.

  6. Jo says:

    Hi there! Good article, I’ve just started using potting blocks for the first time and so far so good! Question for you, I also live in the southern california area (long beach) and so far I have been babying my blocks indoors until they germinate. Now that they have, I am torn with what to do next. I really would prefer to not use energy and have an indoor lighting system. What do you do?

    Do you keep your potting block seedlings outside? In a cold frame? I am debating on purchasing one of those cheap mini-greenhouses online and wondering if that is worth i or if i am overdoing it. Thanks for the help!

    • Stacy~Creativemuse says:

      a great little green house I got, we are north of Pasadena, was a green house that is super simple to put together my twin 5 year olds made all of ours 3 for me, 1 each for my 2 sisters and my mom. its compact. They were at BIG-LOTS last year 3 tiers tall each a little wider than a seed plug tray. they have a durable plastic zippered cover. they were near 20 and the seed trays where on sale too. I just use the base and am going to get the soil block maker. In the mean time toilet paper tubes 3 -5 TIED together stuffed with soil then planted has worked out so much better when the seedling is ready to plant there is no root trauma. The soil blocker is on my wish list for the same reason and what I PUT into the soil. I was wondering if I could use coconut husks instead of peat moss due to environmental impacts. what do you think?

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