Starting Seeds Indoors: Step by Step

Get a head start on your gardening by starting seeds indoors. Starting seeds indoors has its benefits (like early harvest). If you live in a colder climate where you might have to wait for outdoor soil to reach the optimal temperature, you’ll miss out on growing days. But here is where starting seeds indoors comes in to save the day!

What you’ll need:

Before starting, refer to the individual seed packs for guidance on how many weeks before the last frost to begin indoors.

How do I plant the seeds?

  • Fill the containers or trays with growing medium to within ½” of the top. Moisten the soil completely with warm water and allow it to drain.

  • For seed trays scatter seeds evenly on the top of the soil or in rows. For individual pots plant two seeds per pot and thin to one later.

  • Use a pencil to poke a hole in the soil for individual seeds. Refer to the seed packet for suggested planting depth. Very fine seeds may need to lie directly on the soil.

  • Mist the soil with a spray bottle to keep consistently moist. It may require daily misting.

  • Place in a sunny window or under a grow light.

  • Cover with clear plastic to retain moisture.

  • A heated seed mat can help with germination. The recommended soil temperature is 65°F to 75°F.

What do I do when the seeds have germinated?

When the seeds have germinated, uncover the containers, and once the first true leaves

have developed begin fertilizing with an organic liquid fertilizer like Espoma’s Start! or Neptune’s Harvest Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer.

Don’t rush placing your seedlings in the garden. Tender seedlings like peppers, tomatoes, and basil can be set out after the danger of frost has passed.

  • Seedlings should be hardened off by placing them outside during the day in the shade first and brought in at night.

  • Bring them into the sun gradually about two weeks before planting directly outside.

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