Want to get a jumpstart on your spring garden? To extend your growing season as long as possible and save some money, it’s a great idea to start your seeds indoors. Here’s what you need to know for seedling success!
Buy Seeds Now
If you’re thinking about starting seedlings indoors before spring, start buying those seed packets now! Popular or rare varieties can sell out quickly, especially if you want to buy organic or heirloom seeds.
We like buying seeds online from smaller suppliers with trusted reputations. While you can see what’s available at your local hardware store, it’s tough to say how long those seeds have been hanging out in their little paper envelopes or how they’ve been stored. Fresh seeds are more likely to sprout, and higher quality seeds are usually worth the money.
Use Potting Mix, Not Soil
You cannot just dig up some dirt from your front garden to start seeds, unfortunately. Garden soil is almost always too heavy and dense for delicate seedlings, plus it could be contaminated with fungus or other diseases.
Buy a quality seed-starting mix, which is a soilless blend of coconut coir, vermiculite, perlite, and other materials that stays fluffy and light while retaining enough moisture to keep plants happy. This mix does not contain fertilizer, which could burn tender roots.
Pots Don’t Matter, But Drainage Does
You can start seedlings in a wide variety of recycled containers. We like using yogurt containers–start saving now!–but you can repurpose or reuse lots of different containers. The only important thing is that you ensure the containers have plenty of drainage. If the roots becomes waterlogged and rot sets in, there’s not much you can do to save the seedlings.
Warm, Then Bright and Cool
While the seeds germinate, it’s best to keep the pots someplace warm but not hot. The elevated temperature will gently warm the soil, encouraging the seeds to sprout.
Once the seedlings emerge, they’ll need plenty of light. A sunny window might be enough, as long as you remember to turn the trays to balance out seedling growth. However, most veteran gardeners advise investing in some grow lights.
Finally, keep your seedlings someplace where the temperature is around 68 degrees. The cooler temperature will help them stay strong and prevent legginess.
Thin Out Seedlings
Once your little babies have two sets of leaves, you’ll need to thin them out. Each small container should only have one plant, so choose the healthiest one and snip off the rest. It may seem cruel, but that’s nature. You only want the strongest, hardiest plants for your garden!