Get a jump-start on your spring garden and save money by seeding veggies and flowers indoors. Seeds are a cheap way to create a spring garden as they cost much less than potted seedlings already grown in a nursery. Follow these steps to spread spring sunshine indoors.
Choose your seeds wisely
While seed packets are inexpensive, your bill can still quickly add up, so it’s best to think through your choices. Make a list of what vegetables and flowers you most want to grow and then list secondary choices and compare prices.
Find seeds at your local nursery, or shop online for cheap seeds. Check several sites, as prices vary. When choosing between different varieties, select seeds that match your climate zone. For instance, if you live in an area that has short summers, choose varieties with the least number of days from seeding to harvest.
- Plant seeds in just about any type of container, as long as it has drainage holes. You can use plant pots you saved from a prior season, or plastic containers from the grocery store that held produce items.
- Avoid seed mix-ups by planting each type of seed in a separate container. Fill each container with a light seed-starting mix that you’ve pre-moistened. Gently pat down the soil surface to make it even.
- Sprinkle small seeds on the soil surface and cover with additional seed-starting mix in a layer the same thickness as each seed type. Light seeds require a very thin coating. Push larger seeds, such as squash, cucumber and pumpkin, below the soil surface, to the same depth as the width of the seed and cover with soil.
- Use a pencil to label craft sticks with the name of each plant and the date, and insert in the appropriate container.
- Mist the soil surface with a spray bottle until it is thoroughly moistened. Encourage seed sprouting by creating a humid environment. Cover the pots with a plastic lid, or use plastic wrap.
- Place the containers on a heated seedling mat. Keep them covered and the soil surface moist. Remove the lid or plastic when the seedlings emerge.
Seedlings must receive adequate lighting. While a bright window may work, putting them under full-spectrum lighting is best. Such lighting can be found in tubes and bulbs. Place the light within two to three inches of the top of the plants.
Keep the plants moist but not soggy. Too much moisture can lead to fungal pathogens that cause root rot, and too little water causes tender seedlings to quickly perish.
Once the seedlings have grown two sets of true leaves, they are ready to transplant outdoors in the garden, if the chance of frost has passed. When the weather is still too cold, pot up into containers and keep them indoors under lights. The plant should equal two-thirds of the plant/pot combination.
Do you have any indoor seeding tips to share? Please leave them in the comments.
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- Seed packets
- Seed pots with drainage holes
- Seed-starting potting mix
- Craft sticks or other garden labels
- Spray bottle
- Plastic wrap or plastic lid for your container
- Heated seedling mat
- Full spectrum light bulb
- Carefully select seeds according to your growing zone and what you would like in your garden. (Money-saving tip: Compare prices online to find the best deal on seeds, and don't buy more seeds than you will actually use.)
- Find containers that have drainage holes; you'll need at least one container for each type of plant.
- Fill growing container with a light seed-starting mix. Pre-moisten the mix, and gently pat down so the surface is level.
- For small seeds: sprinkle onto the surface and cover with a light layer of the seed-starting mix; for larger seeds, like pumpkin, squash, or cucumber, press seeds below the surface the same depth as the width of the seed and cover lightly with soil.
- Use craft sticks to label each container with the plant name and date.
- Mist the soil surface with a spray bottle until thoroughly moistened.
- Place containers on a heated seedling mat in a humid environment. Cover with plastic wrap or plastic lids to retain the moisture.
- Place seedling containers in a sunny window or under a full-spectrum light bulb positioned about two or three inches above the top of the plants.
- Remove the plastic wrap when seedlings emerge and continue misting with water as needed. Keep the plants moist, but not soggy so that root rot does not develop.