If you plan to grow a garden this year, now is the time to start by planting and nurturing seeds indoors. This is the most inexpensive way to begin your garden, and it's fun to watch seedlings develop.

Things You Will Need

You will need to choose the type of vegetables and/or flowers that you want to grow. Tomatoes, peppers, leeks, and cabbage are all great choices. Seeds can be purchased at your local nursery or hardware store. You will also need potting soil or seed starting peat pellets; pots (milk cartons cut in half) or purchase seeds trays; popsicle sticks for labeling; and lots of light.

Once your seeds germinate, the seedlings will need a warm, bright location to grow so if you don't have a sunny window for your seedlings, you'll need to purchase flourescent grow lights that can be hung above the surface where your seed trays are located.

Step 1

image1740 Assemble seeds, potting soil or peat pellets, seed trays, popsicle sticks, and a container of warm water.

Step 2

Start by filling each seed tray or pot to 1/2" from the top of the container. Press the potting soil down firmly with your thumb to pack it. If you're using peat pellets, expand them according to the directions on the packet.

Step 3

Following the directions on the back of each seed packet, plant 3-4 seeds in each pot. If using seed trays, space the seeds apart according to the directions.

Step 4

Cover the seeds with a fine layer of soil, or if the seeds are very small, simply press it into the surface of the soil. Water the pots or trays well and place them in a warm location. Check each day to make sure the soil is moist. Depending on the type of seeds, germination should occur within 3-10 days.

Step 5

Once the seeds have sprouted, they will require 12-16 hours of direct light each day. Within 6-10 weeks (again depending on the type of seeds), thin them by using a scissors to cut the top off the weakest seedlings, saving two of the plants. Next they will be ready to harden off in preparation for transplanting outdoors.

Step 6

To harden seeds off (preparing them for a successful transition to the outdoors), place them in a shaded area and decrease water. Bring them indoors each evening. After 4-5 days (after the risk of frost is passed), leave the plants outdoors for a full 24 hours. Finally, transplant the seedlings into your garden. Keep them well watered for the first few weeks and during dry spells. Protect them from wind or pests, by placing a plastic pop bottle with the bottom cut off over the plants for the first week or so.
Keep your garden weed free and the soil aerated, and your garden will thrive. After the plants have reached maturity, harvest and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.

Tips & Warnings

Never use garden soil or re-use potting soil, as it may contain disease or fungus that will kill off your seedlings.

Keep seeds in a warm location, and well watered until germination. Then make sure they get 12-16 hours of direct light each day.