Preparedness blog

How to Start Your Seeds Indoors

By Ready Expert
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

- 10 Edible Wild Plants to Save Your Life - 

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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11 years ago
Richard Francis..
11 years ago at 5:31 AM
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..
11 years ago at 11:38 AM
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.
11 years ago at 3:34 PM
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!
11 years ago at 8:04 AM
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.
10 years ago at 7:43 AM
Why is it necessary to start plants in a small container, then transplant to a larger container (while still growing inside the house)? Why can't I just start the seeds in a larger container and then transplant outside when it is time? It seems it would be better because I don't have to disturb a very small plant by repotting it. I didn't have very good luck last year, I had several plants that looked good inside but didn't last outside and I planted them outside on the conservative/late side. Any advice would be appreciated.
Northwoods Cheryl
8 years ago at 6:39 AM
Many plants need some transition time outside before planting them into your garden. I am in northern Wisconsin. I take my seedlings (in their containers yet) place them in a box, and then take them outside in a sunny yet sheltered area for a few hours a day to start with. Let them get used to the breeze and actual unfiltered sunlight. Take them back in. Then I set them out again the next day for more outdoor time. Eventually I leave them out there all day. They need to toughen their stems to manage wind, etc. Be sure to watch that they don't dry out when doing this! I also don't plant them in tiny little cubicles and then replant to bigger ones. I start them in peat pots which can be set directly into the soil, and act as a natural fertilizer. If your plants look very thin and spindly indoors, it's because you don't have enough light. Some will get a fungus and just wilt away. That is called "damping off". Having a set of aquarium tubes or grow lights in a fixture, placed about 2" above the plants helps immensely. I have mine on a pulley system suspended by furnace chain. I can pull the light fixture up to keep it above the plants as they grow. Not everyone will want to bother with that, but for an investment of about $50, it's continued to work for years. Mostly, I would say, just take them outside in a box over several days to get used to the outdoors before actually planting them. It will probably help a lot.