When it comes to successfully starting seeds indoors, a few simple tips go a long way towards success!
Contrary to what many think, growing your own flower and vegetables from seed is not difficult. Nor does it require fancy equipment, heat mats or special lights.
In fact, with the most basic of supplies (See : What You Need To Start Seeds Indoors), anyone can start and raise an entire garden’s worth of plants from seed with ease.
And it can save BIG on the budget. Growing plants from seed also is the perfect way to add special heirloom or rare varieties that can be hard to find at local nurseries.
Here are 6 big secrets to success when it comes to starting vegetable and flower seeds indoors.
#1 Start Seeds At The Right Time
The most important step off all? Start seeds at the right time!
Plant too early, and they become large and unmanageable before its time to move to the garden.
Plant them too late, and they may never mature enough to handle the shock of transplanting.
To start your seeds indoors at the correct time, use the simple counting back method.
Start by finding out the when its safe to plant in your growing area. This is usually called the last frost date.
It refers to the last typical day in Spring when the threat of a frost could occur in your area.
Next, check the recommended growing time on the back of each seed packet. Then, simply count backwards from your last frost date to know when to start seeds.
Most vegetable plants require around 6 to 8 weeks to grow to transplanting size maturity.
#2 Use A High Quality Soil-Starting Mix.
This is not the time to use ordinary soil from the garden.
To get seeds to germinate and grow strong, use a loose, fertile, well-drained soil mix.
There are some great, inexpensive and organic soil mixes on the market now that work beautifully. (See : Espoma Organic Seed Starting Mix)
You can also mix your own with equal parts of sand, potting soil, and vermiculite or peat moss.
Add in an equal part of worm castings or pulverized compost to the mix for an outstanding slow-release organic fertilizer. It will do wonders for early growth and strength.
#3 Start With High Quality, Fresh Seeds
Seeds that have been in drawers for years, or stored in areas that have huge temperature fluctuations can have low germination rates and decreased vitality.
Seeds that are fresh germinate at a higher rate, and in general, have more vitality for growth.
Be sure to check the seed packets for the packing date to be sure the seeds are fresh.
If saving seed from the previous growing season, be sure to keep in a dry, cool, dark place to keep fresh.
#4 – Plant More Than You Need
When starting seeds indoors, don’t be stingy when planting individual cells.
Plant two seeds in each cell to make sure of complete coverage. If both sprout, thin to one after a few days by choosing the strongest of the two.
There is nothing more defeating than having half-filled trays of seeds because all seeds didn’t germinate.
Once planted, lightly water, or mist with a spray bottle to dampen the soil.
Cover trays with a plastic top or saran wrap to help hold in moisture until the first plants sprout. There is no need for light at this point.
Vegetable seeds do not require light to germinate. In fact, the only thing light will do is dry out the soil quicker.
Place seed trays in a dark warm place until they begin to germinate. Check on the seeds every few days, watering or misting when necessary to keep soil slightly damp.
#5 – Give Them Right Kind Of Light
As much as a sunny windowsill sounds like the perfect place to grow your seedlings, it’s not.
The ever-changing angles and distance of sun’s light source make it hard for seedlings to grow strong and straight.
Even with constant turning, plants are often leggy and weak when grown with window light.
But don’t rush out to buy those ultra expensive grow lights. Inexpensive t8 or t25 fluorescent shop lights work perfect!
Standard fluorescent shop lights placed 1 to 1 – 1/2″ above the tops of the plants develop strong, slow-growing plants.
#6 – Water Properly
Once seeds germinate, their water needs continue to grow each week.
Check the soil with the touch of your fingertip every day. If it is dry to the touch, lightly water again.
Soil should be damp, but not soggy. If the soil is too wet, it can rot seeds and drown seedlings.
There you go – 5 great tips for starting seeds indoors. Here is to growing your own flowers and vegetables from seed this year!
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