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Starting Seeds Indoors

March 4, 2011

It’s that time of year when we all start yearning for spring, and part of that registers in the need to start plants for the gardening season. It’s a fun experience to start your own plants from seeds, and there are several additional benefits:


  • Economical

    • You can purchase a packet of seeds for less than you spend on a cup of coffee, and you get enough seeds per packet to start many plants.

  • Great variety

    • There are thousands of varieties of flower and vegetable seeds available. You can have something different than everyone else in the neighborhood.

  • Earth friendly

    • By starting your own seed you are cutting out the carbon cost of transporting live and heavy plants and of heating a large commercial greenhouse.

  • Safe

    • When starting from seed, you know the history of your plant. You know what types of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals have been used because you are the one using them. You can go completely organic, or you can stick to traditional methods. The choice is entirely up to you.


Tips on starting seeds indoors

Listed below are some essentials for starting seeds indoors. If you stick to these things, even people with ‘black thumbs’ will do well.


  • Sterilize

    • It’s a good idea to use fresh potting soil, and to sterilize your pots. This will keep a lot of diseases from killing your baby plants. A 10% bleach solution works well.

  • Read the package directions

    • All plants are different. Some seeds need to be buried, while others need to be scattered on top of the soil. Some seeds need to be soaked overnight or nicked with a knife before they germinate. Follow directions for best results.

  • Light

    • This is the number one requirement for strong, healthy seedlings. If you don’t have a greenhouse, you will probably need to set up supplemental lights of some sort. You don’t need fancy grow lights, since fluorescent shop lights will work just fine. You put the lights on a timer so you don’t have to worry about turning them off and on every day. Just remember to keep them close to your new seedlings, within a couple inches for best results.

  • Water

    • Most seeds need to stay moist to germinate. It’s a good idea to mist them gently at first, as pouring water can wash them away or bury them too deeply to germinate. After the seeds have sprouted, be sure to keep your seedlings moist, but not soggy wet. Too much water encourages diseases that can kill your baby plants.

  • Humidity

    • High humidity increases your chances of success. You can cover the pots with plastic wrap, or make mini greenhouses out of clear plastic containers. I like to use old salad containers from Costco. Once the seeds have sprouted I take the lid off the mini greenhouse to allow for good air circulation.


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