As the growing season approaches, many plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables are grown outside. They are accustomed to natural elements like sunlight, oxygen, water, and climate change. On the other hand, starting seeds indoors can help kick start your gardening goals in areas with shorter seasons or less predictable weather conditions.
Seeds need warmth to grow and tend to sprout successfully at 65-75°F. Starting the germination process inside tailors the conditions for plants and crops to endure a thriving season ahead. Sowing seeds indoors cultivates an environment that properly breeds the embryo within each seed to grow into seedlings and ultimately bountiful plants, herbs, and healthy foods.
Let’s explore some key benefits of starting seeds indoors:
Less Pay to Play
Purchasing seeds and planting indoors can be much more cost-effective than acquiring young flowers, crops, and transplants from a local nursery or garden store. It depends on the size of your growing space and the variety of seeds you intend to germinate, but small packets of seeds are inexpensive and can achieve even better outcomes when starting seeds inside.
Hone your Horticultural Hobby
Enjoy the process, plant what pleases you, grow your green thumb, and witness tiny miracles with each sprouting seed. Practice makes perfect so go slow if you’re new to the gardening game. A few seeds each of 3 or 4 different plants make for a sufficient start to the season.
Fun for the Entire Family
Starting seeds indoors can be an exciting, Earth-friendly project for children. The whole family can follow step-by-step instructions and pick their preferred plants — a fun way to educate on the environment while eliminating some screen time.
Please Be Seeded
Select seeds that fit your needs. Shopping for seeds unveils many more options with the herbs, veggies, and plants you can play with. The selection far outnumbers the limited variety and availability at local establishments.
Relying on seeds, young plants, or transplants initiated by a nursery can be unpredictable, lacking in quality, and prone to plant disease. Find an isolated area indoors, set out your supplies, and start managing the process from A to Z (or seed to plant).
Baby, it’s Cold Outside
Starting seeds indoors can pay huge dividends in regions with shorter growing seasons and cooler climates. When the weather turns, the germination process is already underway and ready to thrive when transplanted outside. Green thumb gurus say the ideal time to start sowing seeds inside should be six weeks before the last frost of a particular area, as early as February.
It’s What’s On the Inside That Counts
Vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes may struggle outside with early Spring’s chilly temperatures. Sow these seeds indoors so they’re a ripe reward come summertime.
Certain vegetables have longer lead times and won’t thrive indoors. Carrots, corn, and beets have deep root systems that require a wider range to develop and prosper.
On the other hand, annual flowers like violets and marigolds initially generated indoors assure a blooming bouquet all summer long. Vegetables that benefit from sowing seeds under one’s roof include broccoli, beans, lettuce, onions, and eggplant. Basil, dill, rosemary, and mint headline an array of herbs that prosper from starting seed germination inside.
So what procedure should you follow to start seeds indoors? What seed starting products will you need? Here’s a step-by-step summary:
- Pick seeds that pique your interest. Do some research, find your favorite flowers and foods, and consider the physical capacity you have on hand. Seed packets contain helpful info regarding harvest time, care instructions, and growth expectations. While all species vary, 6-8 weeks indoors is a good measuring stick until budding plants are ready to be moved outside.
- Create enough space to work with, water, and eventually transport to larger containers. Plant in an area ideally above 60°F and away from a windowsill where too much heat can dry out the mix or cause flaws in stem development. At night, temperatures too cold can contribute to plant disease.
- Invest in a grow light. Natural sunlight can dry out and damage seed growth, but some “artificial” intelligence inside will work wonders. There are costly, energy-efficient options like LED and specialty growing bulbs, but seeds can thrive with any ordinary fluorescent shop light. Keep in mind as the plants grow, the light needs to be raised and should typically be 2-4 inches above the top of the tallest growth spurt. Some gardeners use a heating mat or have a space heater nearby to provide the warmth the seeds depend on.
- Compile containers prime for performance. Divided trays for individual seeds work well and avoid overcrowding multiple seeds striving to grow in a larger mix. You can use clean trays, pots, egg cartons, or empty butter or yogurt containers. Poke small drainage holes in the bottom to help preserve the root system.
- Label your containers from the start so you know what you’re working with and can tend to them as needed. Be sure to include the date, plant/seed name, source, etc.
- Avoid using actual soil when starting seeds indoors. Rather, fill containers with a potting mix, seed starter, or customized concoction that can include peat moss, compost, coconut fiber, vermiculite, and perlite. These nutrient-rich components minimize plant disease and form a fine texture for the young seeds to blossom.
- Once the mixture is secured, seeds should be gently pressed into the substance. The fresher the seed (make sure to save seeds the right way) the better so be sure to plant several seeds, especially the largest ones which are most likely to germinate. The remaining seeds can be packed air-tight and used the next year.
- Seed packets will suggest the depth they should descend into the potting mix, often between ⅛ – ¼ inch or 2-3 times deep as the seed is wide. Burying seeds too deep can hamper their energy and ability to eventually rise above the surface.
- Cover with clear lids or plastic with tiny holes to aid airflow and prevent developing mold or drying out.
- Water the fresh seeds carefully with light pressure to dampen but not soak the soil. A spray bottle a day is sufficient.
- As seedlings spawn, make sure to position your container under fluorescent lights or near a window and rotate from time to time. This phase requires 12-14 hours of light daily but too much sunlight can be detrimental.
- As multiple leaves begin to form, adding some fertilizer fuels a boost of nutrients. Delicately cut seedlings leaving the healthiest intact. The single seedling is now ready to be transitioned into a separate, larger container filled with compost and watered frequently.
- Before transplanting outside, gradually expose the seedlings to the outside world over the final few weeks. This is known as hardening off period and requires less water but be sure the soil substance stays moist. Alternate exposure between sun and shade so they “warm up” to natural light and adjust to rain, wind, and temperature change.
- When ready to transplant to the outdoors for good, place seedlings in soft fluffy soil where the roots can naturally find their way toward the nutrients and moisture below. Surround with some mulch to preserve moisture and prevent weeds. Monitor the performance and proudly prepare yourself for a desirable and delectable final product.
In conclusion, starting seeds indoors has numerous advantages and can simplify the demands and dependency associated with seed germination and plant propagation outdoors. The delicate, dedicated process can result in delicious, delightful outcomes. Stay within your budget and take control of your garden by making the harvest homegrown and all your own.