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For the last several years I have started some of our seeds indoors for peppers, tomatoes, basil, and cauliflower. I really love the process of nurturing a seed and watering it every day and watching what comes up. We make it a family affair with the kids helping us plant and water. I wanted to guide you through our seed starting process if you are interested in doing it yourself.

Three rows of plastic seed pots filled with soil and marked with popsicle sticks

Of course, you will first need to decide which plants you want to grow and that will most likely depend on how much space you have. You can refer back to my previous post for more information about the garden planning process.

Now I will put a disclaimer that I am by no means a professional gardener, farmer, etc. The steps that we take may be completely different than those you have heard before. I am just sharing the tips and techniques that have worked for us over the last 5 years.

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Supplies Needed to Start Seeds Indoors

Optional Supplies Needed

So once you have decided how much room you will have and what you want to grow it is time to get started!

Prepping the Pots

As listed above you will want to make sure you have a bag of seed starting mix. This is specially formulated and neutralized to help young seeds thrive.

An above view of Black Gold potting soil sitting on a bench

It also a good idea to have all your seeds in front of you before you start planting, then sort all the seeds by whether they should be started indoors or can be directly sown outdoors. You will find this information on the back of the seed packet. Then decide how many pots of each type of vegetable/flower/herb you want to start.

Also, make sure to label each pot before you plant and try to only work with one packet of seeds at a time so that you don’t confuse yourself!

A plastic container edge in the background and in the foreground 2 round seed pots weith soil and plastic labels with "bell pepper" written on them

Planting the Seeds

When getting ready to plant the seeds, read the back of the seed packet and it will tell you the depth to plant the seed. I like to use my pinky finger or the end of a pencil to make an indentation in the soil. I use my seed planting tool to help with the smaller seeds so that I don’t drop too many into one pot. I like to plant 3-4 seeds per pot because sometimes a seed is bad and won’t germinate and this way you will almost guarantee that you will have a least one seed that will grow.

A seed planting tool with a round head and a trough out one side to sort the seeds, laying on top of potting soil in pots

Watering & Light

When watering the seeds I like to use a spray bottle that has never been used for anything other than water. Each morning and night I will mist all the pots to the point that I can see water start to puddle on top of the soil. This way I am not drowning the seeds by using a watering can.

As for lighting, it is best to have your seed starts in a Southern exposed window that isn’t in direct sunlight. We don’t have this type of situation in our house but in our living room (I linked to our post about refinishing our floors since this will show our window situation) we do have a large West facing window on one side and an East facing sliding door that leads out to our deck on the other side.

A close up of a seed starting to push through the soil and grow up into a pepper

The key to lighting is to make sure you have enough of it if your seeds won’t be getting at least 8-10 hours of daylight exposure a day I would recommend using grow lights to help with this.

Looking out a window facing East with a container full of seed pots with stick labels sitting on a table near the window

Other Growing Conditions

Another condition to consider is to think about the amount of warmth or heat in the area that the seeds will be started. Most seeds will need a significant amount of heat to grow properly and in some cases you may need to use a seed heat mat that plugs in and is specially formulated to sit under your seeds and help keep them at a certain temperature for germination and growth.

Take Notes

My last piece of advice is to take notes as you plant so that you can look back year to year to see what worked and what didn’t. One of my favorite gardening books is from Dulcy Mahar who was a local Oregon journalist who wrote about gardening in the paper every Sunday. The book was published after her death and it is a compilation of her articles, she always talks about the trial and error of gardening and to never give up.

Happy Planting Everyone!

 

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