Get A Jump On Spring By Starting Seeds Indoors
Dreary winter weather got you feeling the blues? Perk yourself up by preparing for Spring and starting seeds indoors. Starting seedlings indoors and seeing the first signs of growth may be enough to cheer you up and put you in a springtime mood. It's easy to start seeds indoors and doesn't take much time to do it. Soon your seeds will have sprouted and you'll have plants growing on your kitchen window sill reminding you that Spring is just around the corner. You could plant an indoor herb garden or get a jump on Spring by starting seeds indoors that you can transplant into your garden later.
Select Your Seeds
First choose the seeds you want to grow. You've probably been getting those tempting seed catalogs in the mail; you can pick some seeds you'd like to start from there. Check your local stores before you order, they may already have seeds in stock and they might be less expensive than the ones in the catalog. If you have seeds you've saved you can try those out too just keep in mind that the older the seeds are the less success you will have in germinating them. Still, why let those seeds go to waste, you may have great success with them. You can try starting seeds indoors using any type of garden seeds, even rare vegetable seeds, but it's best not to try to start larger plants than grow rapidly, such as pumpkins, unless you're sure you'll be able to transplant them into the garden fairly soon. Some plants, such as tomato plants, will become leggy when grown indoors for too long a time without direct sunlight.
Seed Starting Trays Or Homemade Potting Containers
There are many methods for starting seeds indoors. You can buy seed starting systems or create your own. Basically, you need a tray to contain water and protect your surfaces from moisture, some type of containers to plant your seeds in and soil to start them in. Once you plant your seeds you can add plastic domes to make a mini-greenhouse. If you go all out you can add warming mats to generate bottom heat which helps in germination and promoting faster root growth. Warming mats aren't a necessity though. Containers for planting seeds to start can be anything you have around the house from plain pots, to plastic yogurt containers, or seed starting trays.
Plant Your Seeds
Label your containers or seed starting tray with the date and with the type of seed you are planting – it may be difficult to remember 2 weeks from now what you planted where. Fill your seed starting tray up about 3/4 of the way with potting soil. Push large seeds such as cucumbers, pumpkins, etc) about 1/4 inch deep into the potting mix. Place small seeds on top, then sprinkle a little soil on top. Place two or three seeds in each container, in case not all of them germinate.
Water Until Planting Soil Is Moist
When starting seeds indoors it's important to keep the seeds moist - but not saturated. Use plastic bags or other enclosure to hold in moisture and place them in a warm spot. Check regularly to see if your seeds have germinated. Don't let seedlings dry out, but don't over water either. Most types of seeds should sprout in less than 2 weeks.
Your Seeds Have Sprouted!
Remove the plastic bag or lid from your seed starting tray and put them in a bright, south-facing window or you can use a grow light. The plants will grow best if you can give them a lot of light. As the plants get bigger, cut off all but the strongest-looking seedlings at their base in each pot. Don't pull them out as this will disturb the roots of the neighboring plants.
Transplant To Your Garden
After starting seeds indoors and watching them grow you'll need to determine the right time to transplant different kinds of seeds from your seed packets and by paying attention to your local weather. Your plants should be large enough to have true leaves but not so large that their roots have completely filled the container. Water your plants before transplanting and gently tip the plant and potting mix out of the pot. If your plants are in peat pots, or biodegradable containers just plant the entire pot directly in the soil. Plant them in your garden, placing it in the soil just below the lowest leaves. Transplanting is best done in the late afternoon or evening or on a cloudy day. Hot afternoon sun will wilt tender plants. Water plants thoroughly after transplanting. Once your plants establish themselves you'll be weeks ahead of your neighbors due to your foresight in starting seeds indoors and getting a jump on Spring.
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