I have just sent some seeds to a GM member, who says she has not had that much experience. So rather than trying to send instructions to her, I thought I would open it up as a thread. What follows is purely my method. There is no single right way, many people will use slightly different methods with just as much success. A few principles are worth keeping in mind:- All seeds need both moisture and air to germinate. So if your compost excludes air by being too solid or too wet you will have a problem. By covering the seed you will maintain it in a moist environment, and all seeds contain enough energy for the emerging seedling to push its way up through the compost. Big seeds contain more energy and so can be buried deeper than small seeds. The general rule is to cover the seed by about its own thickness of compost. That very difficult to judge so I sprinkle compost on top a bit unevenly, leaving some seeds well covered and some hardly covered - the chances are that some seeds will be happy. :D Most seeds don't need light to germinate, but some like Salvias do - so they need to be left uncovered. You have to think how a seed germinates in the wild in its native environment, and copy that. Many seeds germinate in spring because that gives the plant a long season to get established before winter. How do they know its spring? Well they usually feel its spring when they warm up. So many seeds like heat to kick start them into growth. Once they have started growing they can't get back into the seed shell - so they are generally happy to carry on growing at a lower temperature. But some seeds like to germinate at cooler temperatures than others so you must check the temperature requirements. Don't use garden soil - it will have lots of unwelcome seeds in it as well as being too heavy to make good seed compost. I use a mixture of 2/3 multi purpose compost with 1/3 sharp sand. Perlite is probably even better than sharp sand as its light and holds water, but you don't see it for sale that often. The purpose of the sand is to help drainage and leave pockets of air. Compost by itself can get very soggy. I usually sieve the mixture (when I remember) to remove the lumps If you want lots of plants - use seed trays. But if you only want a few plants use a small square pot. The advantage is that pots are deeper and hold more compost and hence moisture, and you can fit 15 quite large square pots into a big propagator, rather than just two full size seed trays. Square pots obviously fit better than round pots. Half size seed trays, can be divided into two with a plastic label if you want more plants. I go by Christopher Lloyd's (Great Dixter) rule of thumb. Don't start sowing flower seeds till 1st March. And for tender annuals such as Cleome, Tithonia and Cosmos its often better to wait till 1st May. The reason is simple. You can easily germinate seeds well before with a heated propagator inside the house, but what do you do with them when they get bigger. There won't ge enough light or space indoors for them, and it will still be too cold to put them outside. If things like Cleome and Cosmos get too cold outside, even if its some way above freezing, they can go into a sulk and never fully recover. Obviously if you have a greenhouse or other suitable facilities you can bend these rules. Although May sounds late, the temperatures and light levels are so much higher then that tender plants tend to catch up quite quickly. When it comes to sowing, fill your pots or seed trays with the compost mix and water well. Its quite a good idea to use boiling water, as this tends to sterilise the compost, but you must let them cool down and drain before the sowing. Sow the seeds on the top of the moist compost, then sprinkle a little more compost on top of that. The compost on top will probably be dry so you need to wet it. Don't pour water on, you could wash the seeds down too deep into compost. I spray water on top. In fact I don't spray water, I make up a dilute copper solution, which is an anti fungal agent, and use that. I still use Cheshunt powder diluted as instructed on the tin - actually I use it more dilute. Cheshunt powder is now illegal and withdrawn from use. The reason, I have gathered from several sources, is not because there is anything wrong with it, but that the EU has forbidden it because new rules came in recently stating that all garden chemicals will be made illegal unless they pass through a rigorous (and expensive) testing procedure. Because Cheshunt compound is generic (ie is owned publicly for all to use) no one is prepared to spend the money getting it passed for 101 other companies to be then free to make it. It has been replaced by another copper based compound made by Bayer called "Fruit and Vegetable Disease Control". This is patented and owned by them, but reports say that it is not as effective as Cheshunt. I then put the pots that have been sowed into a heated propagator and cover it with a lid. You don't need a propagator - you can always improvise with any transparent container that is covered. And you don't need it to be heated if you have it in a warm room. Because the propagator is covered it will lose very little moisture, so there is no need to give it any more water for several weeks. I just spray it occasionally with my dilute copper solution. This replaces the very small losses of moisture and more importantly acts as an anti fungal treatment. Once the seeds start to germinate you can slowly start to let air in by slowly removing the cover. To prevent seeds 'damping off', ie dying from fungal infections, I continue to spray regularly with the copper solution. By using a very dilute solution, I don't worry about over spraying. So my spray doubles up as a watering system as well. Once the seedlings start growing well you can remove them from the heat. However most seedlings will continue to enjoy the heat as long as they get plenty of light. Too much heat and too little light will make plants grow spindly and weak. You can pot seedlings on at any time that they are big enough to be handled. But most people wait till they have two sets of leaves - the cotyledons and the first true leaves. Most seeds are straightforward, but be aware that some need special treatments, such as pre soaking, or a prior cold treatment. Your seed packet should give you full instructions - otherwise there is always the internet.