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One of the most rewarding experiences for a gardener is to start their own vegetable and flower plants indoors from seed. It truly is an incredible feeling of pride to plant a tiny seed and watch it turn into a beautiful mature plant. But growing your own seed also helps save big on your gardening budget. The process is actually extremely simple. That includes vegetable plants for the garden, in addition to flowers for all of our beds, containers and hanging baskets. Here is a look at the entire process, along with a extra tips to get your seedlings off to an incredible start.
WATCH RELATED VIDEO: How To Grow Flower Seeds Fast (With Update)Content:
- Start Seeds Indoors to Get a Jump on Spring—Here's What You Need to Know
- 3 pitfalls of planting seeds too early!
- How to Start Seeds Indoors in the Winter
- How and When to Start Seeds Indoors in Illinois
- Sowing Seeds Indoor
- When Is a Good Time to Plant Seeds for Flowers for Spring and Summer?
Start Seeds Indoors to Get a Jump on Spring—Here's What You Need to Know
After enduring months of bleak outdoor landscapes, the long ramp up to spring can be tough on gardeners — leaving us itching to get our hands in the dirt and just plant something. Annuals get a great head start on flowering when they begin life indoors.
Photo by Elena Kyuchukova. Starting seeds indoors offers some significant benefits. For a minimal investment in a packet of seeds, you can populate your garden with plenty of new plants —and have enough left over to share with friends and fellow gardeners! Retail space is always at a premium, but especially in springtime. By raising your own plants from seed, you give yourself a wider palette of plants to work with.
The sleeping potential contained in each seed has the power to transform your garden —and your outlook— without blowing your budget. In addition to all these good and practical reasons for starting seeds, if you ask veteran seed-starters why they do it, they will often tell you that there is just something magical about planting a small, hard fleck of possibility and watching it grow into a supple, living shoot. When it comes to choosing which plants to grow from seeds, the sheer volume can be overwhelming.
And every year, new and exciting hybrids and varieties are added to the mix. Combine this with page after page of luscious photos and glowing descriptions, and you have a recipe for overbuying. But it behooves both rookies and veterans alike to take a close look at their garden before buying, and come up with some kind of plan — one that takes into consideration how much space you have and the conditions in your garden.
Whether you enjoy pouring over seed catalogs, watching gardening shows, or developing your Pinterest board—the time you invest in planning your seed-starting endeavor will end up saving you time, effort and cash later on. Seed envelopes contain everything you need to know about how to sow and grow the seeds inside.
When selecting vegetable varieties for example, check packets for the number of days until harvest to be sure your choices will ripen before frost. Many long-season vegetables must be started indoors in early spring. Similarly, many annual flowers need an indoor start if they are to bloom during the summer.
To get the most out of the information provided on seed packets, there are several pieces of information you need to know. Mercer County gardens are in either Zone 6b or 7a, depending on their location. When it comes to determining the proper time to start your seeds, there are two important dates to know:.
Here in Central New Jersey, our average last frost date is MayRutgers Fact sheet Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors lists how many weeks pass between seeding indoors and when transplants are ready for planting in your garden. Starting seeds at the right time helps seedlings develop into sturdy, well-branched plants, like these coleus, Plectranthus scutellarioides.
Since coleus likes warm weather, plants started indoors should be planted outside weeks after the last frost date. A common mistake new seed starters often make is starting seeds too early. If started too soon, plants tend to have spindly growth and may outgrow their containers before it is warm enough to transfer them outdoors. The goal is to produce stocky, moderately sized plants that will recover quickly when planted outdoors.To determine when to start your seeds, look on the back of your seed packet for the average number of weeks required to grow indoors or transplant outside, as well as the number of days to germination.
These two numbers are often listed as a range. Add the time required for germination and time indoors to transplant. Then, on a calendar, count backward the appropriate number of weeks from your last frost date. The result will be the appropriate date for starting that type of seed.
For an example, see below:. They then counted 9 weeks back from our last frost date of May 10, and arrived at a seed start date of March 8. Seeds should be planted in clean, fine potting soil— generally no deeper than the width of the seed itself. Photo by Margaret Montplaisir. Choosing the right potting soil is another important part of successful indoor seed starting.
The most convenient choice is to purchase a commercially available soilless mix, one specially formulated for starting seeds. Most contain a mix of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and usually some fertilizer. Soilless mixes are also sterile and reduce the risk of losing seedlings to soil-borne diseases. You can create your own seed starting mix too a recipe is contained in Rutgers fact sheet Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors but know that using soil directly from the garden is not recommended , because it may contain insects, weed seeds, or disease organisms that could damage or kill young plants.
Peat pots can be planted directly into the garden, which keeps developing roots intact. But make sure the edges of the pot do not stick up above the soil, since the exposed area will act as a wick and cause moisture to evaporate rapidly from the pot.
Some gardeners like to save money by reusing yogurt containers, milk cartons, aluminum pans, and clear clamshells from the produce department. A 6-ounce plastic, non-waxed, paper drinking cup also makes an easy and inexpensive starter container. Before using for up-cycled containers for seeds, be sure to poke some holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage.
Otherwise, soil can become saturated, which encourages diseases in the seedlings. One way to minimize the chance of overwatering seedlings, is to be sure to start them in small containers.
In addition to using recycled containers, there are a lot of choices available for purchase, including:. Regardless of the type of container you choose, fill it three quarters full with seed-starting mix and sow the seeds. Be sure to place seeds at the planting depth recommended on the seed packet. Plant one or two seeds per individual container or, if using flats, you can plant in rows that can be thinned or transplanted into individual containers following germination.
Be sure to label the flats to avoid confusion, using a pencil or water-resistant marker. When seeding a tray or flat, plant in shallow rows 1 to 2 inches apart. Sow the seeds uniformly and thinly in the rows. Be sure to label each row right away with plant type, variety and date of planting. Once the seeds have been planted, the container should be watered from the bottom by placing it in a shallow pan of water and waiting until the surface of the mix is moist. This method avoids overhead sprinkling, which can carry away smaller seeds.
The pot should then be removed from the pan and allowed to drain. It is important to keep the soil moist at all times, watering again from the bottom as necessary since seeds and seedlings are extremely sensitive to drying out.
Placing the container in a clear, plastic storage bag until seedlings emerge will help keep the soil moist. This will also increase the humidity and help keep temperature stable. The plastic should not be in contact with the soil, though.
Be sure to remove the plastic cover as soon as sprouts appear. The fungi that causes the disease — — Pythium , Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia — — can quickly kill an entire batch of seedlings. If an infection occurs, dispose of the plants and growing medium, wash containers and tools to remove any debris, and soak them for minutes in a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water. Then rinse with clean water. The consistent warmth provided by electric heating mats —like the black and green one visible above— can be very beneficial to certain types of seedlings, leading to better germination rates and stronger root systems.
Photo by Ellen Kellich. In addition to moisture, seeds need warmth to germinate. For the best results, keep seedling pots in a location that is between 70 to 75 degrees F. Spots like the top of a hot water heater or the top of the refrigerator offer enough warmth to aid germination. Or you can purchase heating mats that are specially designed keep germinating seeds warm.
You can find them in larger garden centers, and online.Using a thermometer or thermostat in conjunction with seed mats will prevent overheating seeds and soil. Better results stem from growing seedlings under fluorescent lights rather than to relying on natural light alone.
Lights should be positioned very close to seedlings —2 to 4 inches above them is best. Once the seedlings emerge, remove plastic bags or covers and give the seedlings as much light as possible so they can grow into stocky well-branched plants.
There are many types of lights that can be used to grow seedlings indoors. For the most part, standard fixtures with a combination of cool white and natural daylight tubes provide adequate light are relatively inexpensive. As close as 2 inches is ideal. Lack of light is the major cause of elongated, skinny stems which results in frail and floppy plants.
Hanging lights from chains or pulleys makes it easier to keep them at the optimal distance as plants grow. Plants need some dark periods too for proper development. Adding an inexpensive timer to your light set up can help ensure plants get the right amount of light and darkness. As seedlings grow, they must be potted up into larger containers to give them enough space to develop. Avoid the common mistakes of keeping seedlings in flats too long, which can hinder their growth.
The ideal time to transplant young seedlings is when they are small and there is less danger of setbacks from root shock. The seed leaves are visible in the photo below. Dig the seedlings out of the mix with a small trowel or spoon. When transplanting, always handle the seedlings by the leaves, being careful not to damage the fragile seedling stem or root system.
Then transplant them gently into their new containers. When planting in flats, like these parsley plants, seeds can be planted in rows. Once each plant has four leaves, thin seedlings by pulling out all but the healthiest plant. Seedlings are ready to transplant outdoors when their roots have filled the pot in which they are growing. Check instructions on the seed package for any specific details on when and how to transplant.
Before planting the seedlings in your garden, allow at least a week for them to become adjusted to the outdoors. Each day, place them outside in a sunny spot for a few hours, and then bring them back inside.
3 pitfalls of planting seeds too early!
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Growing from seed does not require much time or materials, and it is a fantastic way to prep your garden for your favorite summer crops from the warmth of.
How to Start Seeds Indoors in the Winter
Starting seeds indoors is an ideal project to get kids interested in gardening. After all, the seeds already know what to do. Give seeds the basics, and they'll reward us with a gorgeous garden, said Mari Keating, founder of Food Not Lawns Cleveland. It's up to us to screw it up," Keating said. Food Not Lawns is a national organization that advocates for turning lawns into gardens. She tells new gardeners not to be intimidated by the expensive high-tech seed-starting supplies they see in catalogs. Vegetables, herbs, annual flowers and perennial plants can all be started from seed. The increasing number of gardeners interested in seed starting has brought new traffic to Lowe's Greenhouse in Chagrin Falls, said owner Jeff Griff.
How and When to Start Seeds Indoors in Illinois
Gardening Help Search. With proper care and timing you can raise healthy vegetable, flower and herb plants indoors to plant outdoors from seed. In St. Louis lettuce and cole cro ps such as broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage, should be started about February 15; tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant about March 15; and cucumbers, squash, and melons about AprilFlower and herb seeds vary widely.
By the time the plant sprouts, grows, and begins to produce the growing season is over. And from a cost standpoint, seeds are substantially cheaper than plants, allowing you to really be frugal whether you are growing annuals, perennials or fruits and vegetables.
Sowing Seeds Indoor
Please expect shipping delays due to the recent catastrophic flooding in British Columbia. Please refer to the Canada Post website to track packages and for the most current information. The weather outdoors is cold and gloomy. Here on the coast it is altogether wet — the ground is sodden and squishy. Elsewhere, the first blankets of snow are falling, and the ground is freezing hard.Only the most spirited of winter gardeners are still making trips to the greenhouse, low tunnels, or raised beds at this time of year.
When Is a Good Time to Plant Seeds for Flowers for Spring and Summer?
Though seed catalogs fill our mailboxes at this time of year, many gardeners hesitate. They fear starting seeds indoors will be too complicated or difficult or messy. But nature makes it easy. A seed exists to sprout, and given the right conditions, it will do so with great determination. A beginner can start with a single seed packet and end up with a dozen seedlings to plant in the garden in a short time. Seeds of many species can be sown outdoors once the ground thaws. But others—especially annuals and vegetables that come from places with a longer growing season than Chicago—are best given a head start inside where it's warm, beginning in late February or March for some plants. Expert greenhouse growers carefully fine-tune conditions for different species and varieties, as outdoor floriculturist Tim Pollak does when he supervises hundreds of thousands of annual, perennial, and vegetable seedlings every year for the Garden's displays.
Growing plants from seeds can be easy & fun - check out the basics of starting seeds indoors.
As you anticipate the arrival of spring, remember that you can start many of your favorite warm-weather seeds now. Starting seeds indoors extends the growing season by up to two months by allowing plants that need warm soil and weather, such as tomatoes, peppers, and basil, to safely mature into seedlings that will be ready to transplant as soon as the last frost is over early March in Central Texas. Growing from seed does not require much time or materials, and it is a fantastic way to prep your garden for your favorite summer crops from the warmth of your home. Starting seeds requires shallow containers such as plastic flats, peat or paper pots, or even egg carton bottoms.RELATED VIDEO: Starting Seeds Indoors for Your Spring Garden - 6 Mistakes to Avoid / Spring Garden Series #1
Growing plants from seeds is the most economical way to start a garden. It is also a way to choose from dozens upon dozens of different varieties of veggies — not just the 1 or 2 your local garden store stocks. Not sure when that is in your area? Simply enter your home zip code and it will give you an approximate date for the last frost.
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You have the seed starting mix, growing trays and ordered packets of seed — now are you wondering exactly when to start seeds indoors? Getting the timing right can make the difference between plants that lanquish and those that thrive. Planted too early or too late, seeds can rot or young plants may struggle to get established. Start by finding the last expected frost date for your area. From there count back the appropriate number of days or weeks and you have the planting date. The charts below provide the timing as well as the germination temperature for starting 24 common flower and vegetable seeds. In addition, you'll find the recommended outdoor temperatures that are best for transplanting.
Fruits and vegetables feed the body, but flowers feed the soul — and the many beneficial insects that get their nutrition from flowers. Every spring I like to grow a couple of fast-growing flowers from seed, and then scatter the plants about in beds and containers so they give the landscape a feeling of unity. Fast, carefree growth is a virtue, starting with short germination times. The ten flowers listed here are quick to sprout, grow, and come into bloom, and most will reseed with a little encouragement.