How to Start Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors sounds like something you should know how to do since you’ve planting them since you were in grade school, but it isn’t as simple as putting them in a paper towel and water. Here’s how we recommend you start your seeds and some tips to help you along the way.

Every type of seed has specific requirements for germination. [TIP: Germination is the process by which a plant grows from a seed.] Some seeds like to be covered while germinating and others like to be left uncovered. Many will germinate better if you chill them in a freezer a few days before. Each type of seed has a different time frame for germination. Plants like green beans, zinnias and marigolds germinate in a few days while others will take a couple weeks. You can find out the needs of each type of seed on the back of their seed packet. If not, you can easily find the information online.

We suggest that you make a list of the seeds you are planning to start and then set up a schedule based upon their germination rate.

Items you need to get started:

  • An inexpensive tray with peat pots and clear dome lid OR
  • An upcycled egg carton or planting trays with a dry cleaner bag or large trash bag.
  • A light, well-draining potting soil such as Black and Gold’s Seed Starter Mix, Black and Gold’s Organic Potting Soil or Black and Gold’s Potting Mix.

When you begin to plant:

  • Pre-moisten the potting soil in a bucket. Use your hand to mix in the water so the soil becomes damp, not wet.
  • Fill your containers with the soil and level off the top.
  • At this point, it is best to leave the soil to sit overnight and plant the seeds the following day.
  • Use your finger tip or the eraser end of a pencil to make a slight depression in the soil.
  • Plant one to three seeds in the depression. If you want to transplant them, you can also create rows in an open tray and plant the seeds in rows. Refer to the seed package for other specific planting instructions.
  • Put the clear dome lid over the tray or slide the container into a plastic bag, seal the end and wait.

The both dome and the plastic bag will create a greenhouse effect so the condensation keeps the seeds and soil moist and warm until they germinate. We suggest opening the bag or lid for a few minutes every day to let air in and then cover it. Once the seeds germinate, you will see them shed the seed from their first leaves. It is time to remove the plastic cover and begin watering your seedlings by hand.

To care for your seedlings, remember to think about their roots. When they first germinate, the seedling will have one very fragile main root. It will grow side shoots and fill the container very quickly. At first you must be careful to not overwater and then later you will need to give them more water. For the first week after the cover comes off, continue to keep them in bright light and spray the soil with a plant mister several times a day to keep them moist. As your seedlings develop, you can eventually graduate to hand watering. Fertilize weekly with a water soluble fertilizer such as Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 at ½ strength as they grow.

We know this seems like a lot of steps, however, do not be intimidated. It is a little bit of science and a lot of fun! Most of all, it is very rewarding. We’ll be glad to answer questions and help you as you go. Good luck starting your seeds indoors.

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