7 seed-starting tips for smarter indoor gardening

Spring is just around the corner. I repeat, spring is upon us. Can you believe winter is almost over already? Do you know what that means? That means we’ll have more sun (and maybe even a little more rain) and it’s time to really start digging into our spring garden plans!

Indoor gardening is just the beginning

Just because we still have a month and a half to go before spring arrives doesn’t mean we can’t start our spring gardens now. If you can get your spring garden planning off to a quick start, you can actually lower your gardening costs.

How, you ask? I have a simple answer for you: indoor gardening.

It’s so much more affordable to start a garden from seeds than from seedlings if you know what you’re doing. Seeds are also much cheaper and easier to find. Plus, you can buy them any time of the year and store them until you’re ready to use them. Try doing this with seedlings!

Indoor gardening can be incredibly rewarding. Photo: Grigoriev Rouslan/Shutterstock

While I grew up planting seeds directly in the soil of our garden because we lived in a very temperate climate, I now live in a much colder climate with a much shorter growing season. This means that we need to start our garden from seedlings or start our seeds indoors so that we can transplant them once the weather is warm enough. There is no other option in many parts of the country.

If you’ve never planted seeds indoors for your garden before, it’s so easy! And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve been using green gardening practices from the start. You also won’t have to worry about accidentally buying plants that were sprayed with neonicotinoids or started with GMO seeds.

Indoor gardening can be incredibly rewarding. The satisfaction you get from growing a garden from seed is enormous. Just watching the food on your plate change from a seed to a nutritious meal is very rewarding. It’s also a great lesson for kids to learn where their food really comes from!

Ready to try indoor gardening once and for all and start your seeds? Try these seven tips for starting seeds indoors.

1. Choose organic, open-pollinated seeds

If you go to the trouble of growing your own food, you also want to make sure that you choose seeds that are sustainable. By choosing organic seeds, you are choosing seeds that have never encouraged the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides. By choosing open-pollinated heirloom seeds, you ensure that you can save seeds and use these seeds to jump-start your garden for years to come. Seeds from hybrid plants cannot be saved, so if durability is a concern for you, steer clear.

2. Select your starter containers

Woman planting seeds for indoor gardening
Containers and soil make a big difference when it comes to indoor gardening. Do your homework. Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

There are so many different seed starter containers to choose from! You can make your own recycled seeds or buy something premade from your local garden store. No matter where you go, you’ll want to make sure excess water can drain from the container. You will also want to consider where you will keep your seed starter containers. If it’s a location that can be damaged by water, you’ll want to choose a method that will reduce that risk.

3. The right soil makes a difference

You can definitely find potting soil very inexpensively – many dollar stores even sell potting soil this time of year. However, if you want your seeds to germinate and grow into beautiful plants, it is better to choose a quality potting soil. Quality starter mixes are designed to reduce the risk of your seedlings succumbing to rot caused by soilborne pathogens. A good soil mix will also retain water and allow air circulation at the same time. Consider these factors when choosing your floor.

4. Make sure your plants get enough light

During the winter months, in some places getting enough light can be a real challenge. You usually can’t get enough light from windows during the winter months. Once your seeds have sprouted and your plants have sprouted, they will need adequate light to continue growing. You can use supplemental lighting in your home where you keep your seedlings. Fluorescent lights work well and don’t cost a fortune to run.

Another option is to keep your seedlings on a rolling cart in the garage. Every morning you roll them in the sun. Then every night you bring them inside. Not only will this ensure they get enough sunlight, but it will protect them from freezing night temperatures.

5. Don’t forget nutrition!

Although your soil mix may start out with enough nutrients, your hungry little seedlings will eat them up quickly. Once this happens you will need to add nutrients to your soil if you want the seedlings to thrive. You can absolutely buy wonderful soil nutrients, but you can also make your own! According to this spring, you can even create your own liquid soil nutrients for free. Making your own fertilizer tea is a great way to make your garden even more sustainable and affordable.

6. Keep your seedlings warm and warm

Seeds need heat to germinate. It is this heat combined with moisture and light that triggers the germination of a seed. If you’re using a fluorescent light to illuminate your seedlings, it should be quite warm. If, however, it still seems freezing in the area where you keep your seedlings, you can purchase a heating mat for seedlings that you place under the plants to keep them warm. Keep in mind that you will want the temperature to be around 75 degrees for several hours of the day. You will also want the temperature to rise or fall by about 10 degrees each day. This ensures that the seeds will germinate and thrive.

7. Set a timer for best results

If you have trouble remembering to turn your lights or seedling heat mat on and off, use a timer! You can set a reminder on your phone every day if that’s convenient for you. Even better, you can get timers that plug into the wall like a surge protector. Then you plug the light or seedling mat into the timer and set the times you want it to run. The timer does all the work for you – the light or mat turns on and off at the time you designate.

Are you an indoor gardening guru with great tips for starting seeds? What can you share?

Feature Image Alena Brozova/Shutterstock