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Tips and Tricks for Starting Seeds Indoors

Growing your own vegetables is a healthier, less expensive alternative to store-bought produce and can be inherently satisfying. This year get a head start on your garden by starting seeds indoors, with expert advice from the professionals at The Grounds Guys®.

Best Seeds to Start Indoors

Choose your vegetables based on what you know your family will eat, and purchase high-quality, organic seeds for best results. For those living in colder climates, it may be more beneficial to start a wider variety of plants indoors due to the shorter growing season, choosing from among the following list:

  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Peppers
  • Tomatillo
  • Tomatoes

When to Start Seeds Indoors

As a rule of thumb, plant your garden seeds indoors between six and eight weeks from the average date of the last frost in your area. Read the guide on each package of seeds for the recommended starting dates.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

Begin by assembling your tools and materials so that you have everything you need close at hand:

  • High-quality seeds
  • Seed planting trays
  • A high-quality seeding potting mix
  • A pencil with eraser
  • Fertilizer (optional)
  • Seedling heat mat (optional)
  • Grow lights (optional)

1. Read the package directions to determine if you will need to chill, scratch, or soak your seeds before planting.

2. Place your potting mix into a large container and dampen it with warm water, mixing well.

3. Fill your seed containers with the mixture to just below the rim.

4. Read the package for each variety of seed and follow the directions for planting. Choose the biggest seeds and use the eraser on the end of your pencil to gently press the seeds into the soil.

5. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of each tray and use a skewer to poke a multitude of holes to allow for air circulation.

6. Water carefully, as too much force can displace the seeds.

7. The optimal temperature range to sprout your seeds is between 65 and 75 degrees and bottom heat is the best. The top of your refrigerator may work well, or you may opt to use a heat mat.

8. Ensure the potting mix remains damp, and once your seedlings begin to poke through the soil remove the plastic wrap.

9. Move your tray(s) to a south facing window or place them under a grow light. Between 14 and 16 hours of light is required for optimal growth, making grow lights the preferred choice.

10. Once the seedlings have established their second set of leaves it is time to transplant them into individually prepared pots filled with potting soil. Set the new pots in bright, indirect light and allow them several days to adjust. The first set are not true leaves but cotyledons which is part of the seed. Nearly all vegetables will have two cotyledons emerge followed by the first set of true leaves.

11. Harden the seedlings before planting them outdoors by watering less often during their last week indoors. One week prior to transplanting, begin placing the pots outdoors in a sheltered area for several hours at a time, keeping the soil moist.

Tips for Success

  • Water seedlings from the bottom to prevent under or over watering.
  • Label your containers well using popsicle sticks and a permanent marker.
  • Resist the urge to plant too many seeds.
  • Check your plants each day to ensure all their needs are met.
  • Use a timer on your grow lights to eliminate guesswork.
  • Want to try the newest trend in gardening? Try seeds from heritage or heirloom vegetables.

Limited on backyard space? A raised garden bed can maximize your square footage and save your back. Contact The Grounds Guys at the end of the growing season to prepare your landscape and garden for fall planting and the cooler weather ahead.

Need help with your lawn care and landscaping projects? Contact your local The Grounds Guys for help!

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