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.
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.
Supplies Needed to Start Seeds Indoors
- 4″ nursery pots
- Seed Starting Potting Soil
- Vegetable or flower seeds (see this post for my suggestions on where to find these)
- Card table/side table or some type of surface near a window that your seeds can sit uninterrupted for up to a month and a half
- Long plastic Sterlite type container
- Seed Planting Trays (these are best used with flowers in my opinion)
- Nursery Tags
- Gardening Gloves
- Spray Bottle
- Seed Planting Tool
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!