How to Start Your Seeds Indoors

Written by Brandon Garrett

It’s that time of year when you can start planning for your planting!

Many people are beginning to plant vegetables and flowers indoors in order to transplant them outdoors when the weather is warm enough. This helps you get a head start on your spring garden. Check out the advice below to see what things you can do to start your indoor seeds.

Growing your own foods in your garden can help you become more self-sufficient – saving you money and allowing you to grow the foods that your family will need. It’s also a great way to help teach children about responsibility and work.

- When is produce in season? - 

When
The date you determine to plant your seeds will vary depending on where you live. You’ll want to figure out when the last frost of the season will be. It also depends on what you’re growing. If you are planting something that grows quickly, you don’t need as much time before the final frost. If you having something that grows slowly, you’ll need lots of time. Usually the seed packs will have an indication on the label of how many weeks are required before transitioning to an outdoor setting.

Usually, you’ll want to move seedlings outdoors when it’s consistently above 50-degrees both night and day.

Lighting
One of the most difficult aspects to overcome when starting seedlings indoors is light. You can start seeds in a windowsill that gets at least 8 hours or light per day. Most gardeners will need to use additional lighting or special machines to simulate the sun. Even if you use an artificial light, you may need your plants to be under the light for 12-15 hours a day.

Seed Choice
You might not be able to use any seed that you’d like. Remember that you’re going to have to transition these plants into larger pots that will end up taking more space. If the plant grows rapidly, you’ll have to have space to expand your plant area quickly. You’ll also have to be able to adapt quickly. If the plants don’t grow that well indoors, you might have to restart – be sure you can pick a plant which has inexpensive seeds.

You probably shouldn’t grow things like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, beets, onions, potatoes, or carrots indoors. They usually take up a lot of space or don’t transplant very well.

Soil
You should also consider what type of soil you’ll be using. Using potting soil to start your plants indoors might give them an initial advantage. Be careful that when you transition the plants outdoors that you’re still giving them enough nutrients that were provided with a potting soil. Since potting soil is full of things like peat, vermiculite and fluffy matter that retains water well, you’ll have to ensure that these same elements are present in the outdoor soil to the plants aren’t shocked when they’re transplanted.

- You can grow plants during the winter in the ground? - 

Warmth
After all, you’re starting your seeds indoors so they won’t die in the cold winter frosts. Seed starting starts in two stages: Germination and growing. Germination is also known as the sprouting stage – when the embryo of the plant emerges from the seed casing. You’ll need to water the sprouts during that stage, but more importantly, you’ll need to apply gentle heat to the sprouting seeds. You can place them on top of your fridge or a few inches above your radiator. There are also a number of heating mats sold for heating seedlings.

After the seedling start to grow and they’re placed in soil, you’ll need to make sure that the plant stays warm enough. Remember that your house might get cooler next to windows and at night. While you’re wrapped up in a blanket, your plants are not. Be sure to keep them at least at 50 degrees or above.

Watering
While some gardeners are accustomed to allowing their plants flourish in the rain, indoor plants won’t be able to do that. You’ll have to make sure that your plants are getting enough water. In the same stroke, you’ll want to make sure that your plants aren’t being over-watered and become too moist indoors growing mold.

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Transition
The weather can be unpredictable. For that reason, it’s a good idea to slowly transition your plants to the outdoors. Set them outside for a day allowing them to grow accustomed to the outdoor weather. If the weather gets too cold, you can pull them back indoors. If the weather continues to improve, plant them in the ground.

Your Advice
What advice do you have about planting indoors? What have you learned? Comment below and share your knowledge with others.

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Updated February 15, 2013

8 Comments

  1. Cassey wrote:

    If you are moving toward self sustainability, want to be more earth friendly, of just want to eat healthier food, Do Not use GMO seeds. The Documentary “The world according to Monsanto” explains it all very well. (full length documentary is avail free on youtube).
    - The ready store has non-gmo seeds !
    Think Spring !!!

    February 18th, 2013 at 5:25 am
  2. Richard Francis.. wrote:

    I use measureing spoons to water my small plants..and a measureing cup for larger.Can’t over water or under if done right..You can save money by bringing in enough soil and adding a little water and zap away in a micro safe container in the microwave ,to kill the bugs to start you plants in also..and don’t for get your spices and mushrooms..

    February 18th, 2013 at 6:31 am
  3. Passerby wrote:

    Even though I live in the country, the ground is very rocky; hard to plow up and very time-comsuming to pick out rocks…such are my excuses. Last Spring I started purchasing the ‘City Planters’ from Home Depot…hold 10in. of soil, a tube in one corner to pour water in and holds it in the bottom, and sits on four casters…20x30in. I think. I can start seedlings in these (inside) and later just roll them out into the driveway, deck, or out in the yard; no transplanting. I have grown tomatoes, sweet peas, spinach, herbs, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, peppers, etc. but not good for corn, purple hulls, melons, etc. Good things to put your ReadyStore seeds in! Now if the ReadyStore could make one with a clear plastic hood on it…hint hint!

    February 18th, 2013 at 7:05 am
  4. JoAnne wrote:

    yes you can start cabbage and onions indoors and transplant out doors. Everyone in cold areas does this. Onions: if you are planting from seed you will need to do this .If using sets you can plant directly outside. There is also onion bundles which are plants grown from seeds pulled up bundled and you replant again directly in the garden. Advantage to growing from seed? the onions keep longer as they are a first year plant not a second year plant like a set.

    February 18th, 2013 at 12:38 pm
  5. Hank wrote:

    Each seed will make on plant. Not all seeds grow though, so plant more seeds than you need. When you plant your seeds, fololw the directions on the package. It will tell you how much dirt to put on top, how far to space each plant, and how long it will take for the seed to start growing. Water your plants whenever the soil feels dry. You don’t want to over-water them so just make sure the soil is always damp.The best planters to start seeds are small styrofoam cups. Poke a little hole in the bottom to let the extra water out. Put that cup inside another one, without a hole, to catch th ewater so it doesn’t make a mess. Good luck on your planting and on your project!

    March 5th, 2013 at 4:34 pm
  6. Cat wrote:

    Lining a piece of cardboard or two into an L shape in foil or a mylar blanket(s) surounding your seedlings growing area will provide more reflective light.

    April 9th, 2013 at 8:04 am
  7. jess wrote:

    Cassey mwntioned the documentary “The world according to Monsanto”. I also agree that Everyone should watch it. (even if you don’t garden) It absolutely made me a better gardener, and helped me make better choices from fertilizer to seed selection and beyond. Thanks for Posting!

    January 16th, 2014 at 12:37 pm
  8. jess wrote:

    Cassey mentioned the documentary “The world according to Monsanto”. I also agree that Everyone should watch it. (even if you don’t garden) It absolutely made me a better gardener, and helped me make better choices from fertilizer to seed selection and beyond. Thanks for Posting!

    January 16th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

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