Sunday, March 15, 2015

10 tips for starting seeds indoors

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IIMG_20150312_162558_698 (1)t’s the first warm weather we’ve seen in a while, so all the vegetarian greenmomsters are looking longingly at their gardens.  We know there are some veggies that we should plant directly into the ground (lettuce, kale, spinach, etc), but what’s the best way to start plants indoors?  Here are my top 10 tips, gathered from the sources below.

  1. Make sure your plants have enough light!  Buy grow-lights.  Without the right amount of light, your sprouts will get long and “leggy” and die immediately upon going outside.  Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
  2. Start with small containers.  Make sure you start your seeds in small containers – open flats, market packs, individual small pots (no larger than 2-3 inches in diameter), or even modified milk cartons (reduce, reuse, recycle!)
  3. Use seed starting mix and potting soil.  I mix them together.  Don’t just dig soil out of your garden – it will clump and damage the veggie plant roots.
  4. Make sure your plants have enough light!  14 – 16 hours daily!  Keep the lights very close to the plants, if there is no natural light.  If you have natural light, just supplement with grow lights.
  5. Some seeds should start earlier than others, so follow a seed starting schedule (unless you’re like me, and hate schedules – I like surprises!)
  6. Keep that soil warm!  Seeds will germinate between 65 degrees F and 80 degrees F, but I find that soil temperature in the high 70s works well for most seedlings.  Don’t try to plant okra early or in pots – be patient and wait until your garden soil is good and warm, then just sow directly into the soil.
  7. Keep soil moist, not wet.  Check the moisture daily.
  8. Light, light, light!
  9. Be sure to thin the seedlings if many are coming up in one pot.  Choose the most hardy-looking and gently remove the other seedlings.  Do this early (before they get tangled) to avoid damaging the plants.
  10. Gradually expose the plants to the outdoors.  About 1 week before you’re ready to plant, start cutting back on the watering and place the seedlings outdoors for about 1 hour per day (gradually increasing).  This procedure will keep the plants from being shocked by 24 hour exposure to your garden’s outdoor conditions. this is called “hardening off” the seedlings.

Prepare to enjoy your delicious veggies throughout the spring, summer, and fall!


Gardener’s Supply Company.  (2015, 3/12)  How To Start Seeds, A Comprehensive Guide to Seed Starting.  Retrieved from

Organic Gardening (2015, 3/12). Starting Seeds Indoors, Earlier Fruits and Flowers Plus Endless Variety.  Retrieved from,0

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