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How to Start Seeds Indoors: A Step-by-Step Guide


(Last Updated On: April 8, 2024)

Welcome everyone! This is Tim from Organic Backyard Gardening, and in this blog post, I’m going to share with you all the steps on how to start seeds indoors effectively. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, starting seeds indoors can save you money and give your garden a head start.

Why Start Seeds Indoors:

Let’s talk numbers. Visiting nurseries can quickly become costly, but with seed packs, you can potentially start hundreds of seedlings for just a few dollars. Certain vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce thrive when planted early, while warm weather crops such as peppers and tomatoes need a head start indoors to avoid bolting in cooler climates.

What You’ll Need:

To start your seeds, you’ll need a few essential items:

Using Soil Blocks:

While traditional cell packs work well, soil blocks offer a faster and more sustainable alternative. With a soil blocking tool, you can create soil blocks that can be planted directly into the garden, eliminating the need for plastic cell packs. The soil mix for soil blocks typically includes an organic compost blend, vermiculite, peat moss, and optional additives like blood meal for nitrogen.

Helpful Links to Soil Block Tools:

Seed Starting Recipe:

Starting Your Seeds:

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to embark on the exciting journey of starting seeds indoors. Whether you’re using traditional cell packs or innovative soil blocks, the process remains fundamental for ensuring healthy seedlings. Here’s a detailed breakdown of each step:

  • 1. Prepare the Containers: Ensure your containers are clean and ready for use. For cell packs, this means checking for any residue from previous use and giving them a quick wash if needed. If you’re using soil blocks, prepare them by mixing the soil blend and compacting it into the block maker.
  • 2. Make Indentations: Using your finger or a small tool, create small indentations in each cell or block. These indentations will provide a cozy spot for your seeds to settle in and germinate.
  • 3. Place Seeds: Carefully place the seeds into the indentations. Depending on the seed type and germination rate, you may opt to place one or two seeds per cell or block. This ensures a higher chance of successful germination.
  • 4. Cover and Label: Lightly cover the seeds with soil or vermiculite (or soil), making sure not to bury them too deeply. Proper labeling is crucial at this stage to keep track of the varieties planted in each container. Use waterproof markers or labels to prevent smudging.
  • 5. Watering: Water the containers gently but thoroughly, ensuring the soil is evenly moistened. Be careful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to issues like damping off. A gentle misting or bottom-watering method works best to avoid disturbing the seeds.
  • 6. Provide Optimal Conditions: Place the containers on a seed starting mat equipped with a controller to maintain the desired temperature for germination. This controlled environment mimics spring conditions and encourages faster and more uniform seedling emergence. Keep the containers in a well-lit area, but avoid direct sunlight until the seeds have germinated.

By following these steps meticulously, you can set your seeds up for success and ensure a strong start to your gardening season. Whether you choose traditional cell packs or opt for the solution of soil blocks, proper care and attention during the seed starting process are paramount for healthy seedlings.

Care and Maintenance:

After germination, remove the cover to prevent dampening off, a condition that can kill seedlings. Provide adequate light, either from a south-facing window or a grow light, for 14-16 hours a day. Watering should be done from the bottom for cell packs or by pouring water directly into the tray for soil blocks. Keep an eye on humidity levels and consider using a humidifier and fan for airflow. Trim to one seedling, saving the strongest.

Transplanting Outdoors:

Once your seedlings are strong enough, gradually introduce them to outdoor conditions before transplanting them into the garden. See our helpful blog post here for more tips on transplanting. Cool weather crops should be transplanted out ahead of the last frost, while warm weather crops are typically transplanted after the last expected frost.

Wrap-Up: Simplify Seed Starting with PlanMyGarden

Embarking on the journey of starting seeds indoors is not only rewarding but also gives your garden a healthy head start. Whether you opt for traditional cell packs or embrace the innovative approach of soil blocks, success lies in proper care and attention to detail.

For those seeking additional guidance and optimal timing for their seed starting, consider leveraging PlanMyGarden. This intuitive platform makes it effortless to plan your garden with custom schedules and guides tailored to your location and preferences. From scheduling planting times to optimizing plant placements, PlanMyGarden provides invaluable assistance every step of the way.

With the right tools and resources at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to nurture strong and thriving seedlings, setting the stage for a flourishing garden season ahead. Happy gardening!

Plan My Garden PDF

Stay tuned for our next post, and happy gardening!

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