Starting Seeds Inside

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on January 30, 2012

Starting seeds indoors is a good way to save money and to grow seeds that require a longer growing season than you have in your area.  It also allows you to grow vegetables that are uncommon cultivars for your area.  Instead of buying whatever tomatoes the garden shop in your area has available in the spring, you can grow those heirloom varieties you have read so much about.

Starting seed indoors isn’t rocket science, but it does require some care.  The most common problem people have when starting seed indoors is a fungal disease called damping off.  The seed grows, becomes a plant, then one day just keels over dead.  This is due to poor saniatition and excessive moisture, both of which can be prevented.

To start with, sterilize all your containers with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water.  Let the containers stand in this solution for at least ten minutes.  Then rinse the containers completely to get all the bleach off.  Now you are starting without any diseases or pests left over from last year.

Next, buy a ssterilized oil mix intended for seed starting.  A typical potting soil isn’t rich enough for the beginning seeds.  If the soil is not sterilized, it may bring in diseases, pests, and weeds.

If you reuse any soil or other component, sterilize it first by cooking it in an oven set on 250 degrees for at approximately 30 minutes.  This keeps diseases and pests from creeping into your garden on the soil.

Now you are ready to plant.  Put the soil in the containers to the recommended depths and water it well.  Then put the seeds in at the planting depth indicated on the packet and cover the pot with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place.  As soon as you see the first shoots come up, remove the plastic wrap.

Baby plants need light.  The best like is a full spectrum grow light.  Even a florescent bulb will work in a pinch.  The light should be a couple of inches above the plants,  As the plants grow, raise the light an inch at a time, always maintaining a couple of inches between the plant and the light.  This will encourage the plant to grow in a compact, healthy manner.  Plants with inadequate light grow long and spindly as they seek any light available.

Once the seedlings are ready to plant, be sure to harden them off or they will die.  This is a process of gradually introducing them to the outside by putting them out on the porch or other protected area for a few hours each day.  Lengthen the amount of time they spend outside until by the end of the week they are out all day.  Plant them early in the morning and be sure and water them in.

Gardenbookfrontcoverthumbnail For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today!

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