Starting Your Garden Indoors
Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs is very rewarding! Not only will it save you money, but watching it grow from just a little seed to a full plant that you can use in your day-to-day life is a great feeling. Even if it is you first time or tenth time starting seeds indoors, having the right products and creating the perfect growing conditions will help you produce a bounty of happy, healthy plants!
Starting Your Seeds
Make sure to choose containers with drainage holes to avoid damaging your seedlings with standing water. Grow pots come in many different types of materials - peat pots, coconut coir, plastic trays, etc. Peat pots are a great choice if you are worries about transplanting. If you're planning on reusing containers, be sure to disinfect by soaking in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
Seeds will usually thrive in a professional soilless mix. You will minimize the risk of pests and soil-borne diseases damaging your young plants by avoiding soil at this stage.
Make sure to map out your garden before you start your seeds. Decide what, where, and when you want to plant. Truly, not all seeds are good to start indoors. Root crops and cold-hardy seeds needs to be planted directly outdoors as soon as warm weather allows. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, vine crops, and many herbs such as oregano, cilantro, and basil are some of the best plants to start inside.
Check your seeds daily and keep them in a moistened mix. Make sure to water from the bottom. Watering from the top can cause disease and fungus or even damage the roots. Another great tip is to use a plastic cover to trap humidity and warmth for the growing seeds. As the seedlings grow and get taller, start to reduce the amount of time they are covered.
12-16 hours a day of light is best! Supplement with grow lights if your seeds are not getting much natural sunlight.
Having a correct temperature is one of the most critical environmental conditions for seed germination. Most seeds require temperatures of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep the medium at 70 degrees or above, supply the heat from below. This could be obtained from the top of your refrigerator or by using a heating cable or tray. Consider germination under lights if you have the space, that would be your most productive method.
Transferring to Your Outdoor Garden
Make sure to look up the last spring frost date or your area and count back 4-6 weeks to determine the best time for seed starting indoors. Don't start too soon!
Sow Your Seeds
Some gardeners prefer a single-step method of sowing seeds where two to three seeds are planted in individual containers. Pinch off the smallest seedling, leaving the most vigorous to continue growing after the seeds germinate.
If you are using a seed tray, the seedlings will be easier to transplant if the seeds are sown thinly. Covering the seeds with perlite will aid in keeping them moist. Make sure to transplant the seedlings into a tray with more growing room or into individual containers after they develop a true set of leaves. Containers or trays should be filled with a soilless mix to within 1/4 inch of the top.
Covering the container with glass or plastic minimized the need for watering, but make sure to check the medium often to make sure it isn't drying out.
Transplant Your Seedlings
Once the seeds have germinated, remove any plastic or glass from the seed flats. When outdoor conditions are right and your seedlings are more mature, gradually move them into full sun. This process is called "hardening" and prevents sudden changes in light and wind conditions that may injure tender seedlings.
These tips can help you create the most bountiful vegetable garden!