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Starting Our Seeds Indoors – Let Spring Begin!

Finally…A Sunday Farm update with some garden action!…well, sort of.

The planting of seeds indoors signals the start of Spring for us - no matter the weather outside!

The planting of seeds indoors signals the start of Spring for us – no matter the weather outside!

Using the plastic seed domes, or even a piece of saran wrap can keep the humidity level up to help seeds germinate

Using plastic seed domes, or even a piece of plastic wrap can keep the humidity level up to help seeds germinate

It’s always such an incredible feeling each year to finally start putting seeds into the soil.  It gives you that sense Spring is finally close at hand!  So what if there is still a little snow on the ground outside from yet another passing storm system  – once you put a few seeds into soil, it’s time to grow!  We finally planted the first of them yesterday – our ornamental peppers.  The Ornamental Peppers tend to take a little longer to germinate and grow to full maturity – so we like to give them an additional head start by planting in Mid-February.

As for the process…there are thousands of websites, television shows, and gardening experts that give all kinds of advice about starting seeds indoors – and quite honestly, it can get really confusing!  For us – as with all of our gardening – the more simple we can keep it – the easier it is to accomplish, and the more we enjoy it all.  Starting seeds indoors in no different.

Seeds need moisture to sprout – but struggle to germinate if there is too much water or not enough.  The easiest way we have found to remedy that is through using plastic seed domes or plastic wrap, and a spray bottle of water.  We start by placing two seeds in every cell  – that way we can almost ensure a sprout to every cell.   It’s easy to thin them out later – but hard to replace if one doesn’t grow.  For almost all of our vegetable and annual seeds – we make a small indention about 1/8″ to a 1/4″ down with the end of a plastic knife, drop the seeds in, and lightly cover them up with the soil.

We use a small water bottle with sprayer to lightly soak the soil.

We use a small water bottle with sprayer to lightly soak the soil.  It’s an easier way to water and prevents the soil from becoming saturated.

Then, taking the spray bottle – we spritz a fine mist over the entire seed tray – enough to make the dirt stick to your hand if you touched it – but not so much that the dirt clumps or becomes water clogged.  We do not directly water it other than the heavy spritzing.  After that – we place the plastic domes or plastic wrap over top – and place them back on the rack – with no lights on whatsoever.  You should start to see a good amount of moisture on the underside of the plastic dome or wrap in the days that follow – and that’s perfect for getting the seeds started.

The seed domes are on and the seeds are all planted.  The lights will stay off until the seeds begin to germinate

The seed domes are on and the seeds are all planted. The lights will stay off until the seeds begin to germinate

After that initial spritzing of water, we will check them about every other day and make sure there is still some level of dampness to the soil.   If we see moisture on the underside of the cover – we know they are fine and can leave them alone. If not – we take off the cover and give it a few more shots of water spray to keep the humidity up – and that’s it.  Nothing more.

When you see a few seeds starting to break through the soil - it's time to pull of the covers and turn on the lights!

When you see a few seeds starting to break through the soil – it’s time to pull of the dome covers and turn on the lights!

We keep our shop lights about 1 to 2" above the plants.

We keep our shop lights about 1 to 2″ above the plants.

All seeds germinate at different times. Our Ornamental Peppers have a longer germination cycle – more so than our tomatoes and peppers.  It usually takes around 14 to 21 days before the first seedlings emerge from the trays.  At the point we see more than 3 or 4 popping up in a tray (no matter what we are germinating) – we remove the moisture cover and start turning on the lights for the plants. Seeds do not need direct light to germinate – so our grow lights stay off in the beginning.  Even then we will only water by spritzing.

Lighting is another big topic with so many options- again – we just try to keep it simple using regular old flourescent shop lights.  Once those first sprouts start  – we give them about 10 to 12 hours of artificial light a day.  We usually will flip the lights on when we get up – and turn them back off around 7 or 8 at night or later when we go to bed.   We keep the lights down close to the plants – at about 1″or 2″ above the top of the seedlings.  It keeps them growing strong and slowly.  That  is important so they don’t become “leggy” and weak trying to reach up too high for a light source.

So now that our ornamental seeds are in – we’ll wait another few weeks or so before we get started on the other vegetable plants we will grow.  It’s just such a good feeling to finally be writing a Sunday update about some real gardening – even if it is indoors!

I hope everyone has a terrific Sunday!!!

Jim and Mary

Shared on Savvy Southern

22 Comments on Starting Our Seeds Indoors – Let Spring Begin!

  1. Hi Jim,
    I so appreciate your blog and facebook page. I did make the seed starting rack…I love it! I followed your reply to shelves and made mine 4 shelves and it is 8 feet high! Huge, but will start a ton of seeds!! I have started just a couple flats waiting on my organic order to come, And I need more help! lol
    The seeds have started popping up and I took off the lids and turned on my lights. They seem to dry out rather quickly. (I am using an organic seed starting mix, so I imagine it doesn’t hold water as well as a potting mix would.) So, question #1 do you use a seed starting mix or am I seeing the little pod things…#2 Am I still supposed to water with a spray bottle or should I start giving them more? And how often either way. Thanks!! Kathy

    • Hi Kathy – so glad you were able to build your rack – sounds like you will be able to really start some seeds! We make our own seed starting mix with equal parts of compost, garden soil, and a touch of sand – so it would be similar to what you are using. You can definitely start to water with more than the mister now that they are up – as the soil will dry out much quicker. As for how much, we usually water ours every day to keep them moist and growing! Hope that helps Kathy and good luck!!! Jim

  2. I am attempting to germinate outside this year – wish me luck! Hope you can stop by the enchanted oven to say hi.
    xo,
    Lisa

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