Do you know, that in most climate zones, numerous vegetables fail to finish their fruiting cycle before autumn? You can give them even 2-months headstart, by starting vegetable seeds indoors.
This procedur will ensure, that your plants have time to grow healthier, bigger, producing more fruits for a longer period.
Did you collect heirloom seeds from the strongest plants last year and want to continue cultivating that particular vegetable variety you like?
Starting vegetable seeds indoors is really simple. Keep reading to find out, how to do it in a few easy steps. If you want to know when to start seeds, check out Skippy's Planting Calendar.
For planting, choose containers, which are at last 2 - 3 inches deep, with multiple small holes, allowing for a proper drainage. You can use small pots, containers from yoghurt or cheese, or special growing trays, which are specifically designed, to provide a proper environment for vegetable seeds. . You will need a seed starter potting and planting mix, or a similar substrate. A sterile and loose structure of the mix will provide seedlings with moisture and oxygen much better, than ordinary soil ever could.
Place the mix in a bucket, slowly add water and stir, till it's well moistened, but not wet. Then, put the prepared mix into your container and gently push it down. Finally, add a bit more soil and level the surface.
Write the name of a vegetable variety and sowing date on the plastic marker and push it into the container. With a pencil make small holes, spaced at about 1 inch (2.5 cm), and put 1 seed into each hole (if seeds are fresh) or 2 - 3 seeds (if seeds are older, many of them may not germinate).
Cover the container with a plastic foil or a matchinghumidity dome, to keep moisture inside. Place the container in a warm place, preferably in an area, where bottom part of container is heated. If it's too cold, or nights are chilly, consider using a seedling heat mat. Put it under the container to heat the soil and provide the optimal temperature for germination of specific kind of the seeds.
Every day keep checking, if the soil is not drying. Sprinkle with a Spray Bottle, when necessary. Your vegetable seeds should start germinating within 5 - 14 days.
As soon as the seeds start germinating, remove the plactic cover from a container. Place the container in a well lighted place, preferably on a sunny windowstill. Check the soil frequently. If the surface is dry, gently water the vegetables. Every few days rotate the container, to prevent seedlings from bending towards the sun. When the plants have developed a few sets of a true leaves, it's time to replant them into a deeper container or individual pots.
Fill the new containers with soil and make holes for the plants. Remove the seedlings from container, trying not to disturb the roots. Put them into the planting holes, slightly deeper than they were growing before. Push down the soil around the plants and water them gently, to let the soil settle down.
Do not worry if your vegetables look a bit off after transplanting. They will quickly regain their shape. Since the planting mix contains very few nutrients, it's time to start the weekly fertilization. Dilute the fertilizer twice as much as recommended on the bottle, to avoid hurting sensitive roots.
When the soil in the garden has warmed up and night temperatures are at 50 degrees F (10 degrees C), seedlings can be transplanted into your garden. At first, leave containers in a shaded place outside for a few hours. Then, you can leave them overnight. After a few days you may start placing them in a direct sunlight, beginning in the morning or afternoon. This procedure will allow young plants to gently get used to the conditions outside.
Choose a cloudy day or a late afternoon for planting your vegetables in the garden. If you have some compost, you can mix it into the soil to encourage growth. Push down the soil around transplanted seedlings and make sure they are well watered.
As you see, starting vegetable seeds indoors is easy. Try it and have a great veggie harvest, while paying less for seedlings!