Thinking about starting seeds indoors this year? Never fear, Amy Jacko is here today to help you get your seeds off to a good start.
Happy Spring! It has been a gloomy past few days but spring has begun inside the house with all the indoor seed starting. I find I’m humming to myself even with all the dark gray clouds outside my window.
Are you trying to figure out how and when to start your own seeds this year? Hopefully the information below will help you starting seeds indoors.
What type of seeds should you start inside?
Here is a basic list of herbs, vegetables, and fruits that you should start inside or buy as transplants (I am a sucker for transplants at spring time street markets).
|Swiss char||Watermelon||Hot peppers|
What type of seeds should I not start inside?
Here is a few seeds that normally don’t do well as transplants. But because I am a little rebel, I always try to start a few seeds indoors that are normally don’t grow indoor as transplants. I will let you know how it goes…
You will find that somethings work for some gardeners, but not for others. Here is a list of a few seeds that, as a rule, do better as a direct sow (planted directly) into you garden.
When should you start your seeds inside?
Depending on the type of seeds you have selected to grow this year, you should start them inside 4 to 8 weeks before you plan on planting them outside. Instructions are usually provided on the seed packet itself. Most direct you to start seeds indoors a set number of weeks before the average last spring frost/freeze in your area. Tomatoes normally should be started inside 6 to 8 weeks before you plant them outside in your garden.
What supplies do I need to have on hand?
- Set up a seed starting work area. It should be at a comfortable height. A 4’11” this sometimes is an issue for me. Short girl problems! I am hoping that someone (hint, hint, honey) creates me the “perfect” work station this year. You should have a water supply near by and room to spread things out.
- You must use clean containers for planting your seeds. Most home improvement stores, garden stores or seed catalogs offer seedling flats, peat pots, and other growing containers. Get creative in what you use to start your plants in. Egg carton compartments make good containers, newspaper origami pots are also fun to make as a family project on afternoon too. Old yogurt contains also make wonderful containers for seed starting. Ask my husband how much he loves having yogurt cups stacked on top of the freezer. Be sure to poke holes in the sides near the bottom of the containers you use.
- You will need seed starting mix. Sometimes also referred to as “medium”. Seed starting mix is light and airy and is easy for seeds to push up though to the surface.
- You will need labels (from popsicle sticks to store bought white markers meant for planting) and marking pens. Label your containers now! I even suggest twice! There is nothing more frustrating than forgetting what you planted. But it is sometimes fun to play the game, “guess that plant”. But your first year, you are so nervous that you sometimes lose your sense of humor. Wait a couple of years before playing that game.
- You will need your seed packets. Work with one type of seed at a time. This will save you from getting confused and having surprise produce in other areas of your garden. I am speaking from experience. Another reason, some plants just don’t like growing next to each other.
- Pour seed starting mix into a large bucket and moisten with warm water. Addition ideas for your mix: worm castings, compost tea, or plant development solution. Fill your containers to just below the rim.
How do I plant and prep my seeds for planning?
- Soak your seeds! I soak my seeds in water or plant development solution for about 2 hours; do not, DO NOT soak them overnight. Of course some will disagree but think about how you feel after a shower or a long soak in a bath, refreshed!
- This prep goes for both starting your seeds inside or direct sow outside.
- When planting seeds, pick out the largest seeds in the package to get the best germination/growth rate.
- Plant your seeds according to your seed packet. Most seeds can simply be gently pressed into the seed starting mixture.
- I plant 1 or 2 seeds per seed tray cell and for solo containers, I plant up to 4 seeds depending on the size of the container.
I have started my seeds indoors, now what?
- If you have your seeds in a cooler area of your home then you may want to have a seed warmer pad under your seed containers to help the germination process.
- Feed me Seymour! Gold star to anyone that can name the movie that this line came from. Have a great organic seed food on hand and use it according to the directions on the bottle. Normally once a week is adequate.
- Light is not required to germinate but the soil needs to remain warm, between 65 – 75 degrees F, but as soon as the seedlings push above the ground, they need to be placed in a south-facing window or under grow lights that are designed for growing plants.
- Love on your seeds daily. Make sure that the seed planting mix remains moist. Water started seedlings very carefully. Do not pour water as it could be too forceful. Use a method that will not cause too much seed mix disruption.
- You can cover containers with plastic wrap and punch small holes with a toothpick for ventilation to act like a little greenhouse.
- I like to use seedling trays that have a dome covers to act as mini hot house.
Do you want to meet the neighbors? Team up with neighbors that are starting seeds or talk them into it and share/trade seed packets, as packets normally have more seeds than you will need or use.
Setup an event via Facebook with your friends and have a low key get-together. A potluck, or wine/cocktail seed swap. You could also have a seedling swap too. You could then have a harvest potluck with dishes made from the seeds from your spring time swap.
Happy seed starting!