How to start seeds

If you live in a climate with a shorter growing season, starting seeds indoors is a great way to make the most of your garden. It’s not that hard, but does take a little time and space. You might even want to invest in a grow light if you don’t have a sunny spot.

To get started you will need empty containers, you can buy new containers like these, which I love because you can plant them directly into the garden when the time comes. Trays to go under the containers are important, and you will also need a good seed starting mix, which you can buy, or even mix your own. If you would like to make your own, there is a simple “recipe” on You Grow Girl that we really like. And of course, your seeds!

Most seed packets will have a chart for when to start indoors or direct sow depending on climate. It’s important to make sure you time them correctly so they don’t get planted outside too soon, otherwise you could lose your plants to cold snaps. If your seeds don’t come with planting info, you can find one here based on growing zone.

  • Fill each of your pots with moistened soil, and lightly press it down to pop any air bubbles.
  • Plant your seeds, using 3-4 per container. The best way to know how deep to plant the seed is to look at the size of the seed itself. A larger seed needs to be planted deeper, while a small seed should be closer to the surface. You can make a hole to put your seeds in, or use your finger to gently push the seeds into the soil.
  • Cover the seeds with more soil, and then place your pots on a plastic seed tray so you can water from the bottom. Watering from the top doesn’t promote deep root growth like watering from the bottom does.
  • Label your trays, or if they are mixed with different seeds, use seed markers to label each pot.
  • Place your tray in a warm, sunny spot. It is really helpful if you can buy a heating mat, although it’s not necessary. Consistent warmth really helps for germination, so try to find a spot where you don’t have drafts, or where you won’t have to move the trays around.
  • Keep the soil damp, but not overly wet.

Now the hard part, wait for sprouts!

As sprouts grow you will need to thin some out, choosing the healthiest plants. Then when it’s time, you will need to start the “hardening off” process to prepare them for life outside in the garden.