Get A Head Start With Indoor Seed Starting Tips
Starting seeds indoors can be a futile effort for some; but with some indoor seed-starting tips revealed in this post, I hope to show you how you may save the lives of hundreds of seedlings.
I have been there and done that. Because of much trial and error, I’ve improved my success rate dramatically by finding the right formulas.
Choose Your Seeds
The perfect place to start. Decide here and now what you want to grow and when is the right time to start growing.
There is a wealth of information on the back of every seed packet. The first thing you should look at is the garden zone you are in and what the recommended growing ‘window’ you should be shooting for is.
Also, you should determine if what you are growing will ‘work’ in your zone.
Most packets will give you information on how long it will take the seeds to germinate and even if they are expected to survive the transplanting process. Some plants do not like that part, preferring to go straight into the ground they will spend their lives in.
Follow instructions and keep that packet for as long as you keep the plant. You never know when you might have to refer back to it.
The Indoor Lighting Effect
First and foremost, it is essential to understand that if seedlings do not get enough light, you will doom them to failure. And if you are starting seeds indoors, even that south-facing window sill will not get it done.
They need much more. Plus some. Without it, you may see germination; however, you will not see anything that resembles a healthy plant in the future.
There are straightforward and inexpensive remedies for this roadblock.
With proper lighting, all you need to start is a predetermined space in your house or garage. You will need some shelving and the all-important nearby electrical outlet.
The shelving may be fixed, while the lighting should be adjustable to be raised as your seedlings start maturing. A simple 4-foot fluorescent fixture hung by S hooks and chains will do the job nicely. Start by turning the fixture close to the seedlings and raise as needed.
Controlled by a timer, you should have the lighting set for at least 15-17 hours per day. Some recommend using different bulbs, such as one cool and one warm fluorescent bulb in the same fixture; however, try to find grower bulbs specifically for growing plants. They will give the proper light spectrum for better growth.
Growing Medium For Seed Starting
Even though they tend to dry out rather quickly, I like using peat pots to hold a good quality seed starting soil.
Transplanting seedlings to the ground is a potential nightmare if you have to remove the seedlings from a pot before you insert them into the ground. There is less chance of damaging the fragile seedling, and the shock of transplanting is non-existent.
Place the peat pots in a shallow tray; each one filled with a good sterile potting mix that is available from your favorite big box store or nursery.
Having water in the tray will keep those pots from drying out.
The Jiffy Company makes not only peat pots but also a fine seed starting medium that I have found quite reliable and inexpensive.I am also in love with their peat pellets.
Food For The Seedlings
For this part, I prefer organic fertilizer. It is so easy to burn seedlings up by the use of harsh chemical fertilizers and the mistake of overdoing, such as ‘if one teaspoon is good, two is better.’
It is challenging to burn up a plant with an organic fertilizer such as a fish emulsion.
Apply some food after the seedlings start showing some maturity. And do not overdo it.
Fooling Mother Nature
You are already tricking nature with that artificial light; however, there is more to the outside elements than just light. And that stagnant air in your basement is not fooling anyone, especially those new plants you are trying to grow.
Try setting up a small fan to blow some fake wind across those young leaves. Set at low speed, you will not only help strengthen the seedlings, you will also blow some of the dust off the young leaves.
Remember not to overdo it and keep a watchful eye out in the moisture department. Moving air will dry out the soil a little more quickly.
When it comes to indoor seed starting tips, there are always more than one or two ways to get growing.
Some gardeners are old-school DIY and make do with what they have approached. The homemade setups that involve old yogurt cups, old shop lights, and some leftover shelving from another project.
Some go all out high tech with sophisticated grow lights, heating cables, hydroponic starters, and other equipment you can find online or in your favorite big box store or nursery.
Me? I fall into both camps. I like the challenge of finding what I may reuse in the garage and what kind of new gadget is out there to cheat the system (mother nature) maybe a little bit.
Just remember to have fun. It is not rocket science. Although some of the things out there for seed starting sure look like its been over-engineered to the ‘9th degree’.
And one last indoor seed starting tip, and one important one. Eventually, those seedlings are going to go outside. They should be hardened off if you live in a cold climate to acclimate the seedling to the outside environment.
So, another DIY project for you would be a cold frame. Check the project out right here.