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How To Start Seeds Indoors With Ease – Episode 103

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Here is a look at this week’s show, How To Start Seeds Indoors With Ease. Learn how to start all of your vegetable and flower seeds indoors from start to finish.

Below you will also find our show notes along with reference and product links from the article. You can check out all of our past episodes on the website, here at : ALL EPISODES

IMPORTANT REFERENCE LINKS:

PRODUCT LINKS

Show Outline / Show Notes – How To Start Seeds

INTRODUCTION

The excitement of starting seeds can be such a rush for a new gardener, plus it has so many benefits:

  • gives you more options on what to grow
  • Easy to do, does not require a lot of time or resources
  • Allows you to have plants that are ready for planting day
  • Doesn’t require a lot of space or special equipment

What You Don’t Need

Many think you need special grow lights or heat lamps or a special space to grow seedlings. But you don’t need:

  • Fancy grow lights
  • Heat mats
  • Window Sill – Not A Good Spot To Grow Seedlings

What You Do Need

Here is a look at what you need. Although you can purchase seed starting soil, you can make your own easily at home.

  • Fluorescent or LED shop lights – You can use ordinary 2′ or 4′ long fluorescent or LED shop lights to grow great plants!
  • Seed starting trays / containers,
  • seed starting soil,
  • Spray bottle 
  • worm castings
  • Compost
  • Perlite

Ordering seeds / importance of seed quality

If you are ordering your seeds, order early, supplies can be limited. In fact, this year more than ever that seems to be the case.

  • Order early
  • Pick up locally might be the best option this year
  • Where to store seeds
  • Library seed catalogs

When To Start Seeds

When you start your seeds depends on your average last spring frost free date. You need to count back 8 weeks from that date to start your seedlings. So if you will be planting May 15th, you want to start your seeds 8 weeks prior, around March 20th.

Start your seeds indoors about 8 weeks prior to planting day. This will give enough time for solid strong growth before planting outside permanently.

HOW TO START SEEDS INDOORS

Use A High Quality Seed Starting Soil Mix – Starting Seeds Indoors

  • Don’t use the peat pellets / soil-less mixes.
  • Do not use straight potting soil, garden soil or top soil.
  • Seed starting soil needs to be lightweight, fertile

4 Simple Ingredients To Make Your Own. Use these four ingredients in equal parts to create your own seed starting mix.

  1. Potting soil without fertilizer – can have perlite
  2. Compost – finely screened
  3. Perlite
  4. Worm castings

Selecting The Size Of Growing Cell To Use

  • Avoid the 72 cell seed trays – too small for extended growth
  • Better to find trays that hold 24, 36 or 48 seeds with larger size cells.
  • Fill seed trays a few days in advance to allow the soil to settle in
  • Moisten the soil in advance as well
  • Top off before planting day to fill the cells completely

Planting Seedlings

Plant ¼ to ½  of your cells with multiple seeds. This will ensure enough germinate to fill all of the cells.

  • Label well – easy to lose track of what is planted where.
  • Cover with lid or plastic wrap
  • Do not need to turn on the lights! Seeds do not need lights on to germinate. Actually it can dry out the soil
  • Need warmth and moisture to germinate most
  • Once they germinate – move to a light source

Email of the week: Henry from Virginia: 

Every time I grow my own tomatoes from seed, the stems are long and skinny but there are few leaves. When it is time to put them into my garden they look so weak. What am I doing wrong? 

ANSWER : It could be several things so we will cover them all. First, if you are growing in a window sill, it can lead to those weak, spindly plants. Also, the soil can make a huge difference if there are no nutrients in it. The compost and worm castings can help in a big way. Also, keep the lights close to the leaves for good growth.

Maintaining Seedlings

Keep your lights right above the plants at 1″ to 2″ above the top of the leaves. Move them up as the plants grow to keep the light steady and close.

Watering – keep soil moist but not soggy. Do not allow the soil to dry out for long periods, but keep from saturating it. We use a spray bottle early to mist tiny sprouts, and then a small water bottle to water the cells as they grow. Do not flood the plants with a heavy stream or spray of water.

Thin plants early on within the first few weeks. Transplant seedlings into cells where seeds did not germinate. But also remove double seeds from cells with an additional sprout.

How long to keep lights on each day? Keep lights on for 10 to 12 hours each day. Do not keep them on around the clock.

Fertilizing – As plants grow, they can be fertilized around week 4 with a half or quarter strength organic liquid fertilizer. Compost tea or worm casting tea can also be used, but keep the strength low.

Hardening Plants Off Before Planting – Starting Seeds Indoors

One thing to avoid is to take your plants directly from the indoors and plant outside. Before this happens, they need a bit of time to adjust to sunlight and temperature. This process is known as hardening off.

How to harden off :

As temperatures warm up, take plants out to get used to being outdoors. Start slowly, first protecting them on a shady porch or patio. Slowly allow them more and more sunlight.

Be sure to provide protection against wind, especially early on. Bring in at night when cold

Eventually leave outside around the clock as planting day approaches, only bringing in if a frost or cold temps are expected.