My close focus photograph of these coleus sprouts is rather blurry, but I only took the one shot, and it is a perfect example of the problem-solving tip I want to share today. When planting small seeds, even specially blended seed-starting soil can be full of lumps, small twigs, and other woodsy debris used to create the mix. Luckily for me, only one of my coleus seeds was placed on a ‘clod’ of dirt. The seed sprouted fine, the problem arose when the small root tried to reach the moisture beneath it. The hard clod of dirt it was planted on created a barrier and the sprout withered a day or two after emerging from the seed.
To give future seeds a better chance I filled the bottom of the container with about 1.5 inches of seed starter, then using an old sifter, I added about 1/4 inch of finely sifted seed starter mix. This makes a huge difference in the success of growing small seeds.
After sifting, place the container in a shallow pan of water and allow the mix to wick up more water. If the bottom layer of seed starter is sufficiently drenched, the sifted layer will absorb plenty of water for sprouting. Make sure and cover small seedlings with plastic wrap or another type of lid to ensure uniform moistness through the sprouting stage.