With some things you’ll grow, it’ll be easy enough to grow from cuttings or planting the bulb in the ground (onions, garlic, etc) but at other times that will be a bit more difficult. That’s when growing from seeds is the best option. It’s often far cheaper and much more portable than a pre-existing plant from a nursery. You won’t need anything special to grow from scratch, just a container, water and some form of compost.
Before we get started, there’s a few things I should probably mention. You’ll be limited by the germination rate of the seed, which is the percentage of seeds planted in identical conditions that will actually grow. Of course, you can tip the odds in your favour, but it’s best to keep in mind that it’s not always something you’ve done wrong when it doesn’t germinate.
For the seeds that come in packets
To make things easier for yourself, a good start is to soak them in warm (not boiling) water to weaken the seed wall. 24 hours is a good length of time but you can soak them longer if you’d wish. I’d say say anywhere up to 3 nights is fine for the tougher seed varieties. If you can get hold of it, add 1/2 of a teaspoon of saltpeter per 500ml (1 pint), this will really help the process along so don’t overdo it, but at the right amount, your seeds will do fantastic.
As soon as you’re finished with the soaking process, take them out of the water and rinse them off if you used saltpeter, then put them straight into the soil you’ll be growing them in. You won’t want them to dry out so it’s best not to use a towel or anything to remove the dampness.
For dead seeds
I call the seeds that come in fruit/flowers dead because they’re not prepared to come to life just yet. The process we’ll use is called stratification and is, simply put, waking the seeds up. As an analogy, when you first wake up you’re not really ready to start work, but after your morning routine you’re good to go. Stratification is the morning routine of the plant world and will get them ready to start growing.
To wake them up, soak the seeds in cool water for about half of a day, then keep them in the fridge for a few days. As soon as they’re done, take them out of the fridge and plant them somewhere warm. It’s important that you do this at a time they they won’t be exposed to frost or prolonged drafts so keeping the pot by a closed window is a good option.