April 2, 2013

Quick and Easy Steps for Starting Seeds Indoors

I’ve vowed to grow vegetables this year. Yes, this is coming from the woman whose house is “where plants come to die.”

I’m particularly interested in growing food that’s not GMO — which means I need to learn to grow from seed — and not waste those heirloom seeds I buy.

Does starting seeds indoors sound too complicated or difficult? It doesn’t have to be at all – you just need to find the right information. A step-by-step guide can help.

Here are some quick and easy steps for starting seeds indoors.

1. Location

First, you need to find the right location for your seed-sowing ventures. “Indoors” is a bit vague! Here are some tips for a good seed-sowing location:

* A flat surface, such as a garage work table that is about waist-high, is a good place to start.

* Lighting is essential – a window with some indirect sunlight is good, or you can rig up artificial light (more on that later). So consider lighting as you choose your spot.

* Water is also essential, so if you can, choose an area where you can get water easily.

2. Containers

Generally speaking, seeds can be started in almost any container. But containers that have drainage holes and provide at least two inches of soil are best. You can recycle used produce containers, such as plastic strawberry and lettuce “clamshell” packages.

Peat pots are another option and these make things easier in one particular way: the peat composts into the soil, so when you transplant, you place the whole pot into the garden soil. The roots remain undisturbed when you use peat pots.

You don’t have to have separate containers for each seed or seedling. If you like, you can choose an open flat and tease seedlings out when it’s time to thin or transplant. However, sources point out that separate containers require less root disturbance when transplanting the seedlings.

3. Lighting

If you have a sunny window, you may need to move the containers periodically as the sun moves. You can also set up a plant light or grow light, which is available at most garden centers. Your seedlings will need 8 to 12 hours of light a day.

4. Soil

The next step is soil. At your local garden center, choose soil specifically formulated for starting seeds. If you can’t find something labeled for seedlings, a good potting soil will do.

5. Water

Before planting, water the soil in the containers thoroughly. Make sure the soil is soaked through. This is important – if you plant in dry soil and then attempt to water, your seeds will get dislodged and may float away over the rim of the pot!

6. Seeds

Most seed packets will have directions. Make sure to read these! The directions will tell you how many seeds to plant at once, and how much soil to put over them.

These are the tips I’ll be following when starting seeds indoors. How about you? Got any more tips for me?

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Alexis Rodrigo

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