Expert Advice

Growing a Garden from Seed

Posted on February 22, 2018

Felix Cutrone
Sales Mentor & Diagnostician

With January in the rearview mirror and February going fast, now is the time to plan your flower and vegetable gardens. Growing a garden from seed requires proper planning to ensure that your garden looks beautiful and produces tons of fruit or flowers.

Germinate Vegetable Seeds into Vegetables

What to Grow?
The first step is to decide what you want to grow. For the sake of this blog, let’s look at vegetables.  Veggies are really an object of pride, so getting them off to a good start is important.

I usually start by thinking about what my family enjoys eating. It makes no sense to plant and nurture veggies that will no one will eat. At the same time also think about the number of plants in relation to your space. If you have a 4’ x 4’ space, we have to be realistic in what is going to fit properly.  Take tomatoes for example, depending on variety, my experience has been to give them as much space in the garden as possible. Three or four feet between tomato plants is optimum for plant growth and health.

Lake Valley SeedsIt’s Time to Start Seeds
Ok, so now that we know what plants we want to grow and how many we can fit in the space we have – it’s time to start seeds. Here at Hicks we have an awesome seed selection available and staff that can give you some great advice. Keep in mind that the seed packs themselves are a wealth of information that will help you. Check the seed pack as to when to start your seeds indoors.

seed starting kitWhat You Need
A seed starting kit is the best way to go in my opinion. It provides a tray that holds water, planting cubes and a clear top to create a greenhouse effect that will keep the seeds warm and help them to germinate. A bag of seed starting soil will also be needed. I like Espoma seed starter because it is a light mix that promotes root development.

Sunblaster Mini Greenhouse KitHow to Start Seeds
Fill your planting cubes with soil, then check the seed pack to see how deep to plant your seeds. I usually do two seeds per cube and remove one plant later.  Once you’ve planted all of your cubes moisten the soil with a mister or small watering can. Place the clear top on the seed tray to help keep the seeds warm and moist and move the tray to a sunny window. A tip I have used for years is to set up a small fan to keep the air around the seed tray moving. This helps to prevent disease. When the seeds start to show some growth, remove the clear top so that the plants can grow a bit slower and become stout instead of “stretched”. Rotating the tray at regular intervals will also keep the seedlings from leaning into the light and grow straight.As your seedlings grow keep the soil lightly moist by using a mister bottle but also let the soil surface dry out between watering.

When to Fertilize
Once the seeds germinate and show some growth it is time to use a liquid fertilizer. Fish emulsion fertilizer is a great option. It’s an organic and mild method of feeding seedlings and getting them off to a great start. And it does not have an odor.

start planting seedlings outdoorsAt this point you should be aware of when you can set these plants out in the garden. Here we use Mother’s Day as bench mark of when to put out summer veggies. By then usually any chance of frost is past.  So 10 days before planting I like to take the seedlings outdoors to a protected, partly shaded and wind free spot for a few hours daily and then bring them in at night. In this fashion the seedlings will be “hardened off” and ready to be planted in the garden.


From seed to harvest!! You’ve done it … enjoy.!!   


Additional Information:
How to Successfully Grow Vegetables
Growing Figs on Long Island

Ask An Expert


Employee Profile

Alison Caldwell

Need help finding the right plant?



“Best selection on LI. Helpful staff. Great displays for inspiration.” – C. Mazza. 


“Beautiful flowers, beautiful shrubs, beautiful everything!” –Kevin M.                                         



“I wish my backyard was bigger so I can keep buying awesome stuff from Hicks!” –Jeanne S.


“I love taking my granddaughter to see hicks beautiful christmas, Halloween, and Easter displays! Thanks for a job well done!” –Mary Ellen S.


“I would like to commend you on the wonderful staff you have. A garden center should be a happy place. Everyone at Hicks had a smile and a pleasant word and I will continue to come back year after year.” Joan H.


“I just got home from a trip to Hicks Nursery. I was in awe of how many varieties of tomatoes are there! Actually, there is a huge selection of everything!! One stop shopping at its best!”  -Cathy A.


“Thank you for carrying such a large selection of organic herbs. I got behind in some of my seeds and really focus on an all organic garden. I was pleasantly surprised today by how big the selection was in all herbs. Got all the herbs I wanted.”  –Sophie L


“I love Hick’s for all the beautiful flower’s I plant in our yard every Spring. They have great quality and friendly service.”  – Erika M.


“I won’t shop anywhere else. Best plants in Nassau County. Great selection and the staff is both knowledgeable & helpful.” – Patricia M.


“You get everything right, knowledgeable & friendly staff, great quality plants, the gorgeous flower show, Otto and Santa.” –Pat B.


“I shop at Hicks and bring the flats back to our home in CT. I will always be a Long Island Girl.” –Lisa D.


“Hicks has always been a leader in the Green Industry; even during trying times. I hope the people appreciate just how wonderful Hicks Nursery truly is!” Erik F.


“Beautiful! We’ve been twice and will visit again. The show is always a LI spring highlight – great work! BTW, love the new landscape design center more visible and accessible – had a great consultation!”          – Jacqueline S.


“I so enjoy going to Hicks. It is a beautiful place and I feel refreshed when I leave there. Hicks offers so much more besides flowers. I usually meet old friends there every time I go.” –Anne D.


“You have a great selection of plants, some of which I have never seen!! The blue orchids are out of this world!!” – Rae K.