Step 7: Tips
"Thinning" is a heartbreaking experience. The first seeds I planted were herbs in a pot. I planted lots of seeds and had to throw most of my seedlings out as they grew. I now plant seeds individually, one per container (or a couple in a pot, spaced appropriately), and plan for them all to sprout. If they don't, I can always plant a new seed. But most seeds sprout.
Covering seedling trays with plastic is not something I do, because I don't have plastic wrap lying around. I'm attentive to the soil moisture and haven't had any problems. Seed starter mix holds water particularly well (one of the reasons it's worth buying), but do keep in mind that the smaller your container, the more often you'll need to water it. The mix is also easily compacted by the impact of a stream of water. I've found that the handiest way to water small containers without disturbing the soil is to make a SEEDLING WATERER as follows:
1 plastic water bottle with lid
something with which to poke a hole in the lid
Poke a hole in the lid. Fill the bottle with water and put the lid on. Squirt the water through the hole onto your seedling pot. No soil disturbance!
I also don't keep my seeds in the dark before they've germinated. I'm sure people who insist on doing that have a good reason to do so, but I try to keep things simple and so all my guys are on the same table by my south-facing window. I figure they're under soil, so it's pretty dark down there, and they seem to be doing fine and germinating in the appropriate time frame. I don't use grow lights - that would be way expensive - but I do turn my seedlings, sometimes more than once a day, and take them outside when the weather is good.
A note about parsley: parsley takes forever to germinate. So long that, long after the other herbs I had planted the same day were sprouting their first and even second true leaves, I'd yet to see any action from the parsley. I finally planted something else on top, but the very next day they sprouted, and they continued to sprout for a couple of weeks. Some seeds just require a lot of patience, and it never hurts to look them up with Google to get some extra info - seed packets can be frustratingly brief.
Finally, keep track of your planting dates by writing them on your seedling pots (in ballpoint or something similar, which doesn't bleed on cardboard, and sharpie on yogurt cups). You'll want this information for your own reference. Also write down varieties, especially if you've got seedlings that look similar (all the nightshades look a like at first, and forget telling two kinds of tomatoes apart). You can never have too much data.
I hope you've enjoyed my instructable and feel inspired to start your own seeds for cheap. I'm entering the gardening contest, so if you liked it, please give me a good rating and vote for me. Good luck!