The first sign that winter is almost over – it’s time for starting seeds indoors!
For us, nothing seems to break the winter blues quite like planting the first seeds of the season. Even if it is inside.
We grow nearly all of our plants from seed.
Beyond our vegetable plants, that also includes all of our flowers and ornamental pepper plants we use for hanging baskets, containers, and in flower beds all over the farm.
Starting seeds indoors is actually quite easy. And contrary to what many people think, it doesn’t require a lot of work, space or investment.
Not only is it a great way to save money, it also allows us to have plants that can be hard to find in stores.
We thought for today’s article we would share a few of our top hints when it comes to starting seeds indoors.
And, a new method we are trying out this year with our seedlings to hopefully save us a bit of time and effort down the road.
3 Big Tips To Starting Seeds Indoors
#1 Stay Away From Growing In The Window
When it comes to starting vegetable seeds, windows and window sill growing is a tough way to go.
Unfortunately, plants simply don’t get enough light. Most end up spindly and weak from reaching for the far away light.
But no worries, ordinary and inexpensive T8 or T25 fluorescent shop lights with cool white bulbs work great!
We have been growing our seeds indoors with them for years. And with great success.
Just keep the fluorescent bulbs about 1 1/2″ above plants as they grow. You will end up with perfectly strong transplants that are ready for the great outdoors.
Not to mention you won’t be turning those plants every 4 hours in the window sill!
For more on our homemade seed starting stand – see our article : DIY Seed Starting Stand
#2 Put Power In Your Seed Starting Mix.
Whether you make your own seed starting mix or purchase a commercial mix, success all starts with using a quality seed-starting mix.
It really does make a huge difference!
A good quality seed starting mix should be lightweight and filled with nutrients. It should be able to be squeezed and still fall apart.
But our biggest tip of all? Add worm castings to whatever mix you use. You simply won’t believe the results!
They provide the perfect balance of slow-release nutrients to power seedlings.
We have been using them for years now with incredible results. By mixing them into the soil, they provide the only nutrients our plants need during the entire process.
How much? We add one cup for every 2 quarts of of our potting soil mix.
Cover Your Seeds Until They Germinate
Keeping the soil moist after planting is a big key to good germination.
The easiest way to do that is to keep seeds covered until they start to pop out of the soil.
Many seed starting kits come with a large plastic dome that makes quick work of covering them up. You can also easily make your own from a bit of plastic wrap loosely fitted over the top of the trays.
We are often asked about when to turn the lights on after planting.
There actually is no need to provide any additional light to plants until they germinate.
We keep all our seedlings on the our homemade seed starting stand with the lights off until they begin to sprout.
Not only is it unnecessary until they sprout, having the lights on also dries out the soil quicker and can cause slow germination.
And A New Twist This Year For Us – Growing Bigger From The Start
One thing we are changing up this year is the size of our seed starting containers.
In prior years, we always used smaller seed cells that started 50 to 72 plants.
It was great to to start so many plants in a small space, but they always needed transplanting before it was time to plant them outdoors.
This year, we have gone to 36 cell seed trays with a large growing space for each transplant. Hopefully, it will allow us to go from seed to the garden in one step!
Here’s to having a little fun starting seeds indoors at your home this year. Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.
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