This page should also be read: Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors
Starting your seeds indoors is a great way to get a "jump start" on your garden. By starting your seeds indoors a few weeks before your last frost, you should have plenty of small seedlings ready to be transplanted into your garden beds once planting season begins.
Pick a Proper Location
You'll need to decide what is the best location you have access to indoors for starting your seeds. Usually this would be a south-facing window with adequate outdoor light coming in. For an organized set-up, you can use shelves. You can easily hang your lights from them and there is plenty of room for your seedlings at all stages of their growth.
Use Good Lighting
You can also get away with starting your seeds in any room, even without a window, as long as you add the use of grow lights. This might be a good option for you if you don't have access to a south-facing window with adequate outdoor light. Double your success by using a south facing window and
grow lights, or full-spectrum lighting.
Choose a Planting Medium
By far the easiest way to start your seeds indoors is to use Seed Starting Soil Pellets
. To use them, place them in a large tray. Fill the tray with enough hot water to cover the pellets. This will start to expand the pellets and get them ready for planting. Once the pellets are fully expanded, if there is any extra water remaining in your tray, gently drain.
Carefully tear open the top of the pellet to expose the entire surface area. Using the end of a pencil or other small object, put a small hole in the soil of each pellet. Plant your seeds as directed.
Pay Attention to Temperature
Cover your seed trays with either a plastic clear cover, or plastic wrap. Use whatever you have available to you. Try to not open the tray until your seeds have germinated. This will help the soil stay warm so all of your seeds will germinate. You might consider placing a thermometer near your grow station to help keep track of the room temperature. As soon as you remove the lid or top to your miniature greenhouse, room temperature will be important.
Don't Over Water
Keep your soil pellets moist but not soaking wet. If your pellets are too wet, and the temperature is warm as it should be, you could start to see mold growth.
Care For Your Seedlings
Once all of your seeds have germinated, remove the tops to your trays. Keep the lights just barely above your seedlings. As your seedlings grow, adjust your lighting upwards. Always keeping the lights as close to the seedlings as possible without them touching. Also, as soon as all of your seeds have germinated, thin out each pod by snipping all but one healthy seedling. You probably started 3-5 seeds in each pod, but only one healthy seedling is necessary and overcrowding will stop the plants from developing as healthy as they could be.
Transplant Your Seedlings
As soon as your second set of true leaves have formed on your seedling, they are ready to be transplanted (read Getting Started: Transplanting
). If the threat of frost has not yet passed, you can move them into a larger container and continue growing them indoors or in a greenhouse if you have access to one.