It may be cold outside, but many people are already thinking about a summer garden. Did you know that you can actually start seedlings now indoors in preparation for a summer garden? It is easier than you might think! Here are some tips to help you get your seedlings off to a good start before spring planting time is here.
Gather Your Supplies
You will need a few basic things to get started, and most of them you probably already have at home. You need containers for your seedlings, and you can use empty yogurt or pudding cups, or even egg cartons. If you do use egg cartons, you will need to transfer them to larger containers later, but they will work for the beginning. You will need a quality soil, too, but don’t go for the basic stuff you get at most big box stores. Go to your local nursery and ask for a good soil to use to start your seedlings. Also put a drainage hole (or holes) in the bottom of your containers and set them down in a large tray to collect the water that drips out.
Find a Place For Them
You need to find a place that you a can store your seedling trays. Choose a place that is warm and will get plenty of light. The top of your water heater or in a sunroom is a good idea. Of course, any table top near a window will do!
Plant Your Seeds
Fill your containers nearly full with soil and make sure it is moist, but not too wet. Make some markers out of Popsicle sticks to let you know what is planted where. Take a small dowel rod or a pencil and make a trench for seeds, about a fourth of an inch deep. Plant single seeds, not too close together, and cover them with a light layer of soil and mist with a spray bottle.
Watch and Wait
You should see germination in most of your plants in a week or ten days. Now you watch, water, and wait. Before they sprout, don’t keep them in the window ledge, the night’s cold air can stunt growth. Once they have sprouted and are growing a sunny window is the best place for them. Water when they need it, not letting the soil get too dry. Typically, once they are a few inches tall, it is time to put them in something bigger. This allows them more room to grow strong roots and spread out. As they get bigger, if it’s still not time to transfer them outside, you may have to switch to even larger containers, and thin out your seedlings. At this point you also want to start giving them fertilizer or plant food. This helps them to grow strong as well.
Moving Your Plants Outdoors
Once the threat of frost is gone, and it is consistently above 50 degrees at night, you can safely put your plants outdoors. Move your trays outside for partial days, then whole days, then finally put them in the ground. Water as needed, but don’t let water pool around new plants. Too much water isn’t good. Take care to make sure your new seedlings get a good start in the ground. You may have to baby them a little at first as they integrate to outdoor life.
Do you start your seeds indoors? Share your best tips in the comments!