Plantings seeds indoors is not only fun but also very rewarding. Another advantage is to get a head start on the upcoming garden season. By growing seedlings indoors you can easily gain about 6 to 8 weeks of garden time by planting out your own starter plants instead of direct seeding.
Most of us start seedlings for plants like herbs and flowering annuals. Many perennials, shrubs and even trees can be started by seed but they do take longer to reach a mature size. If you have have lots of space, a green house or cold frame you might want to give some of these a try.
Starting seeds indoors can be as simple as a few seed trays on a sunny window sill to an elaborate shelf and light system. It’s really all about available space and available dollars. Either way you can be successful in producing starter plants for your vegetable and flower gardens.
Simple Steps for Starting Seeds:
1) You can start seeds in any container at least 2-3 inches deep and with drainage holes. You can use plastic kitchen food containers, take out food containers, toilet paper rolls, peat pots, newspaper pots, specially purchased cell packs and plastic flats, cut out milk cartons, small plastic pots, soil blocks and so on.
2) Start your seeds using a commercially prepared soilless seed starter mix or make your own out of peat, vermiculite, and sterilized soil. Using garden soil is not recommended as it contains many disease organisms that can harm your young seedlings.
3) Your planting mix should be moistened before sowing your seeds and lightly pressed into the container to remove all air pockets.
4) Drop your seeds onto the surface then cover with a fine layer of dry mix and moisten with a spray bottle. If your seed packet states the seeds require light for germination, then do not cover them. Simply gently press the seeds into the soil so they have good contact with the soil surface.
5) Place your containers onto larger flat trays so they can drain when watered.
6) Remember to mark what you have just planted with a small stick or label. Write down the name of the plant and the date you seeded it then place the marker into the corner of the container.
7) Most seeds require warmth for germination. You might place them on a table above a furnace vent or on top of cupboards close to the ceiling. You can use special plastic covers that often come with purchased cell flats, or use plastic cling wrap held off the surface with small sticks or pencils to keep in the moisture and create a mini greenhouse effect. Do not make the covering air tight and keep a close look out for any mold that might develop. If spotted, remove the cover.
8) Once germinated your seeds will require an adequate light source. A wide window sill or table right in front of a very sunny window will work. Probably the use of a fluorescent light is even better, especially during sun starved days. If you have a larger set up you can buy fluorescent fixtures for this purpose or build your own version. Proper light is crucial, as without it your seedlings will become spindly and weak.
9) During this first phase of seed starting it is crucial that your seeds never dry out. Daily monitoring is recommended.
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(some photos are from Pixabay)