Starting your seeds off early indoors is a great way to get ahead of the season and to have plants ready to go as soon as the weather is right for them. As regular visitors to this site will know, our bedrooms and lounge turn into impromptu nurseries each spring. This article by Mary Hanna explains.
Spring is creeping in, hallelujah, and it’s time for us to start digging in the dirt. For all of you frustrated gardeners that live in colder climes I bet you can’t wait to start planting your garden beds with flowers, herbs and vegetables. Over the long winter you forget how much you miss those showy blooms and the riot of colour a beautiful garden can supply.
Growing Season – Frosts
If you live up north, there are a variety of ways to cope with the short growing season. Frost, which can happen as late as May or June, delays your plans for planting seeds. With the many quick growing plants this does not pose a problem but with vegetables and ornamentals a little head start is very helpful for healthy lush plants.
Starting those plants indoors solves the problem of unwelcome frost. Getting an early start indoors will really make a difference for frost intolerant plants. Another benefit of starting seeds indoors is that as soon as the frost danger has passed, you can plant your seedlings into your garden giving you a good extra month of gorgeous blooming flowers.
When starting seeds indoors, you must simulate the same conditions as those planted outside. Your basics for all plant life, whether inside or out, are soil, water and light. The difference is that your indoor seedlings will need a little more attention and each plant will have its own considerations.
Seed Compost – Damping Off
Always start with sterilized soil, this is essential. There is a fungus known as Damping-off-Disease that can wipe out your hard work in a matter of days. For some reason the propagation of plants indoors allows just the right conditions for the spores of these fungi to grow rampantly.
Most commercial mediums sometimes referred to as “soil less” are usually a combination of peat moss and vermiculite. When using these mediums make sure it is clearly marked on the bag that they are sterilized.
After deciding the medium that you will use, there are a variety of containers available to start your seeds. I have used flats, peat pots, dixie cups and even egg cartons successfully. As with any plant, the size of the container used is determined by the plant you are growing and only experience can guide you here.
Light is Critical
Seedlings require an enormous amount of light, either sunlight or artificial light or a combination of both. If they don’t get sufficient light the plants will get “leggy” or “spindly”, denying them a healthy start on the way to your garden. Even in a bright window with a lot of sun you may still need to use artificial light.
If you do need to use artificial light, buy bulbs that are manufactured specifically for that purpose. Even though they are for the singular purpose of growing plants you still must keep them on for at least fourteen (14) hours a day. No artificial light can compensate for the intensity of direct sunlight.
The most important element of growing your seedlings indoors is watching the moisture. They must be kept moist but not soggy. The most advantageous way to water is from the bottom. Set your pots in a tray and pour the water into the tray allowing the pots to soak up all of the water.
Never let your pots stand in water as this will cause them to rot. If you have your pots in a very sunny window place them in a tray with gravel. Keep the gravel “watered” just under the pots to keep them from drying out.
When you first start your seedlings cover them tightly with plastic wrap. This helps to maintain warmth and moisture, but be careful to uncover them when they begin to sprout so they don’t smother.
Timing – Don’t Start Too Early
I know you may become anxious in January to start getting ready for planting season but it is important not to start you seeds indoors to early. If they outgrow your pots, you will have to thin them and transplant them to bigger containers. This is not the best scenario.
Right before transplanting your thriving seedlings, feed them with a very weak solution of a water soluble fertilizer to give them strength through the transplanting process.
Keep a diary on what has worked for you, since experience is always the best teacher. Experiment a little each year with one or two new flowers, herbs or vegetables, this will add variety and spice to your garden. Go to gardening forums on the internet and join the group, the experiences of others is always helpful and the spirit of community is enjoyable and satisfying.
Growing Guides, Information & Articles
- 3 Creative Ways To Beautify Your Garden
- 6 Ways to Enjoy Your Garden More This Summer
- Cats Toileting: How to Stop Cats using Garden or Veg Plot as a Toilet
- Desert Botanical Garden – what makes it so special?
- Garden Hints & Tips
- How Fast Does Cherry Laurel Grow?
- How Inflatable Hot Tubs Improve Your Garden Ten Fold
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Garden
- How To Give Your Garden A Makeover During Lockdown
- How to Grow Gladiolus in Your Garden
- How To Make A Side Income From Your Garden
- How to Protect Your Vegetable Garden from the Wind
- How to take care of your pond
- Microgreens – How to Grow Micro-greens Winter & Summer
- Planning a garden or allotment clearance
- Repair Rather Than Replace Old Garden Machinery and Power Tools
- Starting Them Young: 6 Homesteading Skills to Teach Children
- Top tips for amateur gardeners: get started today
- Zen Garden for Meditative Space
- Best Temperatures for Seed Germination
- Raised Beds – Vegetable Growing in Raised Beds
- Seed Saving
- Lawn Care Guides and Advice
- 10 Ways to Increase the Aesthetic Appeal of Your Backyard
- Fluid Seed Sowing & Seed Pre-Germination
- Home Made Pesticides & Unlicensed Use of Pesticides
- Decorative Garden Arches – Roman, Gothic, Ogee Garden Arches
- 5 Popular Uses for Log Cabins
- Grow Your Own Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs & Nuts
- Weed Control
- Gardening And The Importance Of Water Quality
- How to Build a Concrete Garden Path
- Concrete Garden Path Construction – Step by Step Photo Guide
- How Can Gardeners Cope with Climate Change?
- Gardening & Growing Vegetables Under a Hosepipe Ban
- Water Conservation: Garden Techniques
- Flood! Safe Growing & Harvesting of Crops After a Flood
- Day Length and Growing Plants
- Gardener’s Back Pain – Look After Your Back in the Garden
- Become an Urban Farmer and Start Growing Potted Plants
- Allotment Vegetable Plot Planning Software
- Start Your Seeds Indoors For A Jump On Spring Planting
- An Eco-Friendly Garden Backyard – Green Gardening
- Lunar Gardening, planting and gardening according to the phase of the Moon