When I hear people talk about starting seeds inside before planting them in the spring, I always ask myself “Why not just plant them in the ground like normal people?". Turns out it's a great idea to start your plants inside and transplant them into your garden once they’ve sprouted!
Included in this blog are some basic guidelines to help you get started with your indoor seeding.
- Benefits of Indoor Seeding
- Choosing the right seeds
- Knowing when to start seeds inside
- Choosing the right plant container
- Choosing the right potting mix
- How to help seeds germinate
- How to help seeds sprout
- How to transplant plants
Benefits of Indoor Seeding
Growing seeds inside before planting them in your garden will help your young sprouts become strong enough to withstand the existing fungus and bacteria found naturally in your garden soil. Also, gardening with plants that have already sprouted will help you harvest earlier and longer throughout the season.
Choosing the Right Seeds
Technically all plants can be started as seeds inside and then transplanted into your garden later, but not all of them will be worth your time and effort. For example, plants that are hearty enough to stand the cold spring thaw probably don’t need to be started as seeds indoors, as they are strong enough to be planted directly into your garden in early spring.
Here are some great vegetables that are easy to start as seeds inside:
- Egg Plant
Knowing When to Start Seeds Indoors
Knowing when to start planting inside is really important. If you plant too early, you won’t be able to transplant them into your garden later because it will still be too cold. If you plant too late then you'll miss out on the great advantages of starting seeds inside.
Check out the this site for a timetable of individual planting zones by state. Each planting zone will tell you the expected first and last frost dates. These dates are important to know when you start transplanting into your garden.
Most seed packets tell you when to start seeding indoors and when to start planting in your garden. Use this information to decide when to start planting inside so that you can transplant into your garden at the correct time.
Choosing the Right Potting Container
When you start seeds inside, be sure to chose a small planting container that has a few holes in the bottom to allow your plants to breath and drain any excess water. Our favorite are bio-degradable containers - cutting down on plastics!
You will also need a waterproof tray for your seed containers to sit in so the water from the plants won’t make a mess!
Choosing the Right SoilFirst rule of starting plants inside: DON'T USE GARDEN SOIL! It is full of fungus and bacteria, which is good for plants that already have a healthy start but not so great for these little germinating seeds. Use a potting mix instead. Consider using a potting mix that contains recycled food scarps as this will add beneficial organic material to your garden. Here is a great video that explains exactly what you want in your potting mix and how that helps your plants.
How to Help Seeds GerminateHere are a few things you will need to get started:
- Bio-Degradable planting container
- Plastic tray
- Plastic cover for tray
- Organic Seeds
- Ecoscraps Potting Mix
- Watering Pail
Below are 8 easy steps to get your seeds germinating:
Add water to potting mix in a separate bowl until potting mix is a little moist but not soggy.
Put potting mix into planting container.
Lightly pat down mix to get rid of any air pockets.
Place two seeds in each potting container.
Cover with a little additional potting mix.
Gently water either from a gardening pail or by filling the tray underneath the plants with water.
Put a plastic cover over your containers to retain moisture.
Step 8: Place in a warm spot that is anywhere between 60 and 70 degrees F (they won't need sunlight until they begin to sprout!).
How to Help Seeds Sprout
Check your seeds everyday and when they begin to sprout be sure to remove the plastic cover and put them in a sunny spot with lots of light. Try to find a south facing windowsill for your plants to soak up as much sun as possible. One thing to note is many experts agree that windowsill light is not sufficient enough for the young sprouts to become strong. They recommend investing in a grow light in order to provide your plant with 15 hours of direct light everyday.
Continue to water your plants and give them plenty of sun until it is time to transplant them to your garden. Check out this site to know when to transplant your plants into your garden!
How to Transplant Into Your Garden
Here are a few things you will need to start transplanting:
- Small spoon or garden trowel
- Potting containers
- Ecoscraps Natural and Organic Fresh Start Plant Food
Most experts agree that slowly adjusting your little sprouts to the harsher conditions outside is better than directly replanting them into your garden. Follow these basic steps:
Step 1: Use a small spoon to scoop the plant and its roots up out of the container.
Step 2: Be sure not to grab the plant by its stem so that you don’t damage it.
Step 3: Transplant plants into a bigger container that is full of potting mix.
Step 4: Take plants outside during the day and bring them back inside during the colder nights.
Step 5: Do this for about a week.
Step 6: Take your plants out of the container and prepare a place in your garden.
Step 7: Add some organic plant food into the prepared hole for your plant in your garden. Plant food helps your plants have bigger blooms, stronger roots, and better overall health.
Step 8: Transplant your sprouts into your garden. Be sure to amend your existing soil with some organic garden soil.
Step 9: Be sure to work in a little more plant food on top of the soil around the base of the plant.