For most gardeners around the U.S., it is still too cold in the early spring to plant vegetable seeds outside. However, beginners and seasoned gardeners can start seeds indoors between 4-10 weeks before the last frost, depending on the seed type and variety. Most vegetables transplant nicely after growing indoors!
The Five W’s of Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors
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Gardeners may start most vegetable seeds indoors. Several seeds benefit from starting indoors (read more about why below). Vegetables best suited for seed starting indoors include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, lettuce, peppers, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon. There are some seeds that are recommended to plant directly in your garden. Those not recommended for indoor seed starting are beets, carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, and sunflowers.
A few supplies are needed to start seeds indoors. Gather sanitized containers. You may purchase seed starting packs online or at your local hardware store. Recycled yogurt cups, egg cartons, and milk cartons work, too. Biodegradable nursery seedling pots can be purchased online if you would like something you can move directly into your garden bed. Whatever container you choose, you must make sure it has the ability to drain water. In other words, cut holes in the bottoms of your recyclables and store-bought seed starters that do not already have a way to drain water.
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Additionally, you’ll need the “dirt” for your seeds. Non-soil mix is recommended for starting seeds. However, if you only have access to soil, you may use it. The problem with regular soil is that it does not drain water as well as non-soil mixes and encourages weed and fungi growth. Good non-soil mixes have media such as peat and sand in them to allow better drainage and more air. You may purchase seed starting mix online.
Gather your seeds. Follow the directions on the back of the packets to know the depth for planting each seed. Once your seeds are planted, move your containers to light (learn more about where to place them below). Window light will do. Some gardeners purchase growing lights to help, but they are not necessary.
Water is the most important supply. Keep your seedlings watered. Make sure not to overwater.
Read your seed packets. Most seed directions will instruct you about when to start your seeds indoors. If they do not include this information, here is a chart with general planting times for vegetables starting indoors:
You should move your seeds/seedlings to a window area. This allows them to get natural sunlight. Some gardeners purchase garden lights to supplement the sunlight. This is not necessary, but it certainly helps. Make sure your seeds and seedlings stay in an area 65-75 degrees at all times. Two weeks before transplanting, begin to take your seedlings outdoors for a few hours at a time. Increasing the natural, direct sunlight hardens the plants so the elements are not as harsh when they are placed in your garden bed.
There are many reasons to start seeds indoors. This allows you to harvest earlier and, in some climates, have more than one harvest (by planting more seedlings mid-season!). Peppers, tomatoes, and other plants grow stronger stems and will be able to produce more. Roots are stronger on plants that begin growing indoors.
Gardeners also choose to start indoors because they have more variety. Greenhouses and nurseries are limited in the plants and seedlings they offer. If you want to grow heirloom vegetables, you can buy seeds online and start your seeds indoors.
Do you have any questions on how to start seeds indoors? Leave a comment!
For most gardeners around the U.S., it is still too cold in the early spring to plant vegetable seeds outside. However, beginners and seasoned gardeners can start seeds indoors between 4-10 weeks before the last frost, depending on the seed type and variety. Most vegetables transplant nicely after growing indoors! The Five W’s of Starting
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