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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