The First Step
Getting seeds started is the first step. What comes next is not often discussed in great detail. From germination to transplant, there are some important steps along the way.
Pruning is not a common topic when it comes to seedling care but it is one practice that can greatly increase your plant health and vigor. Plants that get tall and spindly are a very common place and an early pitfall. Good lighting along with pruning are great ways to prevent this. The first leaf at germination is called a cotyledon, you will never want to prune down to these sets of leaves. The next set of leaves are called true leave and pinching off to just above these leaves will thicken the stem and make your plant sturdier and healthier.
Watering is a common question and one you should pay close attention to. Seedlings do not need much water and overwatering is one of the worst things you can do, as this will lead to damping off disease. Misting your trays once a day is a good rule of thumb but conditions may necessitate more or less. Think of a damp washcloth. Your soil should be just wet enough to know it is wet but no water can be squeezed out of it.
Hardening off is the process you will use to get your seedlings ready for transplant outside. The process should begin before noon when it is warm enough for any frost danger to pass. Leave them outside for a short time (start with about an hour) and each successive day increases the time left outdoors by an hour for at least a week. This will assure your plants will not get shocked when they get transplanted outside for good.