How to Start Seeds Indoors

Get your plants off to a good start with these tips for indoor seed starting.

| January/February 2018

Starting seeds indoors at home — this simple idea probably causes the greatest mix of either anxiety or eternal optimism of any aspect of gardening that I’ve helped people with in my years of growing vegetables at home. In reality, it warrants neither end of the spectrum. In many cases, it’s not quite as easy as so many kindergarten teachers have made us believe in our “green bean in a plastic cup” experiments in school, but at the same time, with some basic knowledge, some do’s and don’ts, and a bit of good preparation, it’s certainly no reason for anxiety.

I’ve started hundreds of plants indoors in the dead of winter: I’ve been successful, and to be honest, I’ve failed a few times as well, but I’ve gained a good understanding of what to do and what to not do (or watch for) through those successes and failures.

There are a lot of reasons why people decide to take on indoor seed starting. Perhaps your potted starts are beginning to get a little too pricey for your garden budget because, like me, over the years your garden has expanded and grown to proportions that just get too darn expensive to buy potted starts for all your needs.

Maybe as you’ve seen how successful you can be, you’ve decided you want to branch out into some more “exotic” varieties to really get a bang for your garden buck, but you can’t seem to find starts for these plants locally. There are few better ways to ensure your garden investment than to grow those expensive or hard-to-find specialty items that you can’t find at the local grocers.

It could be as simple as you’re just a do-it-yourselfer at heart and want to take charge of that one final element to your garden you have been relegating to the nursery, or just to enjoy a fun experiment with your children. Any or all are great reasons to take the challenge on, and knowing what’s driving you is a big deal in determining how you decide to scale up and move forward.

So the first step is to identify why you will be starting seeds indoors, and what you hope to gain from it. A clear understanding of why you’re doing this is the best way to know whether you were successful in your endeavors, and success is the best reason to continue to try new things.

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