How to Start Seeds Indoors
Even if you’ve never done it before, this is a simple way to get a head start on this year’s garden. Even while there are frosts outside, your sensitive plants can be grown inside with just a bit of work. So, if you want to lengthen your gardening season, here’s what you do!
Buy Fresh Seed
There are always bargain-basement packets of seed, and lots of it has moved well past its sell-by date. But the problem is they usually contain bargain-basement seed, which has a far less growing ratio. Buy good, fresh seed and increase your chances for a better crop. Eden Brothers sells 100% pure seed with absolutely no additives and no fillers…EVER! As such, our germination rates far exceed government standards, and when planted according to recognized practices, should provide lasting and satisfying results for years to come. Find your seeds here!
Use a Starting Mix
If you’re starting from scratch, why not use the best soil? This has a lot to do with not bringing in the diseases that can show up in garden soil, but in general you want to “start clean.” Potting Mix is specially formulated to start seeds off healthily, mostly because it does a good job of supplying water-retention and providing maximum drainage. Throughout their growth, plants require different nutrients, so talk to the folks at your local garden center for their recommendations on the best potting soil combination for your particular plant.
Use Containers That Allow for Drainage
You can use peat pots, recycled pots, plastic six-packs, or flats. In the end, just make sure that you have holes in the bottom, in order to allow for good drainage. And whatever you decide, remember the most important purpose of your vessel: it should allow you to transplant your seedling easily and correctly.
Plant Seeds at Proper Depth
Check the seed packet for planting depth. You don’t need to measure precisely, but be careful not to plant any deeper than the directions suggest. The rule of thumb is to plant the seed two-to-three times as deep as the seed is wide. For example, tiny seeds should be barely covered by soil mix, while large seeds like beans should be sown about an inch deep. If you sow seeds too deeply, they won’t have enough stored energy to make it to the surface. Plant extra seeds, because it’s likely not all of them will germinate; you’ll thin out the extra ones later.
Keep the Mix Warm and Moist
If you want to maximize your seedlings’ growth, then place them on a heating mat. Or, you can put them on top of the frig or near your water heater. Just make sure they’re in a warm spot. And keep them moist with a bit of watering so they don’t dry out.
Give Them Sun
Placing the seedlings in a sunny window is fine, or, if you have them, you can add a few grow lights to them as well (don’t place them too high, though. Only a couple of inches above the seedlings is perfect.)
Keep Them Cool
Try to keep your seedlings as close to 70°F as possible. If your house is too warm, you can always place them in the garage, or some other place where there is still proper light.
Fertilize Once A Week
Don’t give them too much, but in general fertilize weekly. Once the seedlings sprout sets of leaves, it’s best to use a half-strength fertilizer, or, if it’s available, use organic fertilizers.
Time to Thin
When your seedlings start to sprout, keep a lookout for two sets of leaves, for that’s when you want to choose the strongest of the two to keep. Cut the other seedlings off and throw them away.
If they’re not in “buryable” pots, try not to lose the soil the seedlings were originally planted in. Take them outside and put them in a shady spot for half a day, and bring them back in. Do this for a couple of days, in order to acclimate them. Then leave them outside all night in their containers.
Now, it’s time to get them in the ground. Plant them in moistened, well-worked soil, and bury the root mass (and original soil) up to point where the one set of leaves starts.