The ground is thawing, the trees are budding and the aisles of Target are filling up with shiny new pieces of patio furniture and bunny shaped candies...Spring is near! When we aren’t busy making serious decisions like whether we need those rain boots in green or black, you can find us planning our garden and eagerly awaiting the hour in which we can finally start this year’s seeds.
Indoor seed sowing is an easy way to start your garden, big or small. It can be more frugal than buying plants and allows you to grow more unique and zone-specific varieties. Watching all of those tiny sprouts appear is like a ray of sunshine for those late winter blues. Several varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers prefer to be sown indoors. You can check to see if this is the recommended method of starting your seeds by reading the back of the package. Be sure to check to see if your area has a local seed exchange - this can be a great way to grow varieties that will thrive in your planting zone. You can often find local seed exchanges by checking your area health-food store, botanical gardens, library or social media pages.
While it seems fairly straight forward, there are a number of reasons that seeds may fail to sprout. Below we share some of our favorite seed sowing tips to help you have the best results with your indoor sowing!
Start with the appropriate materials. We prefer recycled egg cartons, but any seed starting trays will work. You will want a secondary tray to catch water, especially if you use a porous carton.
Use a seed starting mix as your planting medium. Potting soil or garden soil is often too course and doesn’t drain well for seedlings. Moisten your seed starting mix before you start filling your containers for planting.
Plant the largest seeds. It’s unlikely you will need to plant all of the seeds in your seed packets for the garden you’ve planned - especially if you want a larger variety of plants. When planting the seeds you need, select the largest in the package for the highest likelihood of germination. Follow the instructions on your seed package for the correct depth to plant your seeds and only place 2-3 in each container.
Once planted, cover your seeds with a layer of plastic wrap and poke small holes to allow air to circulate. Place seed trays in a warm spot, such as the top of a refrigerator or dryer. Seeds sprout best in a moist 65-75 degree Fahrenheit setting.
Water your seeds gently. You may want to opt for a spray bottle, eye dropper or turkey baster so you do not disturb the soil.
Once seedlings emerge, remove plastic film and place trays in brighter window light or under grow lights. Continue to water regularly but check to see that your soil is draining well, until ready to transplant. Once seedlings have a second set of leaves emerge, they are ready to thin and transplant into larger, 3-4 inch pots.
Harden off your seedlings. You know how you have to dip your toe in the water before jumping in? Your seedlings need the same reassurance! Once your seedlings are established in their new pots, begin to move them outdoors in a sheltered area or a cold frame during temperate days before transplanting them into the garden or outdoor container to ease shock.
We would love to hear about your seed sowing adventures. Comment with your favorite things to grow from seed! And be on the look out for our next garden post - all about garden planning for small spaces!