Why start seeds indoors? It’s simple, gardeners start their seeds indoors in order to get a jump on the gardening season. Doing so allows them to gain a few weeks of extra growing time particularly in regions with short growing seasons. It also gives gardeners greater selection and more control over growing conditions.
Another advantage is that it is cheaper to buy packets of seed as opposed to buying young plants from a garden center. The economics is easy more plants at a much lower price. Your garden production will increase and the extra plants can be given to your friends and neighbors. When you plant your own seeds, you have control over the way they are raised. This may be especially important if you are an organic gardener who wants to control their process from the choice of non-GMO or heirloom variety seeds through to starting mix composition and fertilizer selection.
Which vegetables are best started indoors? Most gardeners agree that vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, and herbs like basil are best started early. A good rule of thumb is to start seedlings about 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds sprout best at indoor temperatures between 65 to 75°F. A heat mat may increase germination rates and is a good investment. Remember young seedlings are fragile and sensitive. Young plants are easily damaged by fluctuations in temperature and excess watering so water carefully. A mist sprayer is a good choice.
Most veggies need 8 hours of direct sun, so it’s important to have a grow light if you are sowing your vegetable seeds indoors. If your seedlings get too leggy (tall with small leaves) then additional lighting is necessary. Amazon offers an excellent selection of grow lights that use LED technology and traditional fluorescent lights.
Lastly, your seedlings need to be hardened off prior to transplanting in your garden. This allows plants to get slowly accustomed to the great outdoors. It will also decrease losses and die back. Over a 10 day period move your plants outside in a protected area, like a back porch, for a few hours each day. Not too much light or wind. Gradually increase their exposure to full sun and wind conditions; your plants are now ready for transplanting.
May you have a successful gardening season.