If you’re going to grow vegetables indoors in fall, winter and early spring, you’ll be starting your own plants from seeds. For successful sowing, remember these pointers, which are also valuable if you’re starting transplants for your outdoor gardens.
To help keep space requirements down, look for miniature types of vegetables or vegetables that you can eat while immature, such as baby carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes (sometimes called Patio Tomatoes) bush beans, short-vined cucumbers, spinach and chard, and salad mixes (also known as mesclun mixes or baby greens).Start your seedlings 4 to 8 weeks before the last frost for transplanting in your garden.
Don’t Go for Discounts
Buy top quality seed from reputable companies. Most seedhouses now date their seed packets, so you can be sure you’re purchasing seed for the current growing season. Resist the urge to purchase discount seeds in dollar stores, because you’ll get very low germination rates-or no germination at all.Store your seeds in a place appropriate for their survival – ideally in a cool, dry space, protected from light, such as a refrigerator.
Share Your Seeds
Share seed orders with a friend. In many cases, seed packages contain many more seeds than you’ll need in a single season, and while some seeds remain viable for years, others don’t. Pairing up with a gardening buddy on orders means you can split the cost of seeds, and not have so many left over afterwards.Don’t rely only on your memory and keep a written record of the place where you purchased your seeds. Monitor them and note their progress and yield. This will save you time next year by making the right decisions immediately.
Mind the Manual
Follow instructions for planting seeds: some need to be covered with soil, others should just be pressed into the soil surface. Don’t sow too thickly or you’ll have to thin seedlings out, a challenging process if there are fifty seedlings in a 3-inch pot.To improve the chances of successful germination, place your seedlings in a place where the temperature ranges from 18 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Store Your Seeds
Leftover seeds can often be saved for another year, provided they are stored in a cool, dry location. Some gardeners use small jars or tins, others use envelops; just remember to label any containers that are not original seed packets, so you don’t have to rely on memory next season.After germination, indoor seedlings must be placed near a window facing south. Turn your seedlings slightly every day to strengthen them and maximize their exposure to sunlight.