Starting Seeds Indoors
To start seeds indoors, purchase seed starter soil mix . It will be clean of any diseases or weed seed and is the sensible way to go. Regular “dirt” from outside does not work well for starting seeds inside and should definitely be avoided.
Trays And Pots
Place dampened starter soil in new plastic trays with drainage holes. (Another option is peat pots.) Sprinkle seed lightly in rows on firmed down starter mix. Tiny seed may not need covering at all while larger seed should be covered no more than twice the thickness of the seed. Follow the instructions on the seed package if it is available. Setting the tray on an electric heating mat ensures the proper temperatures for good germination. This works great for starting almost any type of seed. Covering the tray with a humidity dome ensures that the seed have enough moisture to germinate. Remove dome when the plants have emerged.
Grow lights or fluorescent lights placed a foot or so above the seed trays will give adequate light for germination.
After the seedlings have two sets of leaves, many kinds can be set in direct sunlight for sturdier growth.
Plants can be transplanted to growing containers as soon as they can be handled. Seedlings need room to grow to produce sturdy healthy plants. Otherwise they will be thin and spindly and too weak to endure transplanting outside. If seeds are sowed directly into growing containers, then thin out seedlings so that remaining ones can be stronger.
When plants are almost ready to go outdoors, place them outside for an hour or so each day to acclimate them to the sun and wind. This is referred to as “hardening off” the plant. Increase exposure time gradually until ready to transplant. For our area, you can plan on transplanting your seedlings outside after the frost date, which is around May 15th.