Starting Seedlings Indoors

Unless you have access to a greenhouse, or something like it, those living in cooler climates will have to start seedlings indoors if they are to take full advantage of their growing season.

Here are some gardening tips to starting seedlings indoors.

You can use an enclosed porch, a garage, a shed or a basement. Make sure you have sufficient counterspace to work comfortably.

Growing seeds is pretty straightforward. Give them what they need (light, water, warmth) and they will sprout. Simple as that. But don't start them too soon! In 4-6 weeks they will be ready to go out into the garden. If you are still experiencing frosts, they will be killed.

Prepare your containers, whether they are trays, egg cartons, yoghurt containers or jiffy pots and make sure they have drainage holes. Your indoor seedlings are going to need a lot of light...more light than a regular plant, to get them going.

So arrange lights over your seedlings. Plan to have these lights on for up to 15 hours a day. Put a fan in the room on low to keep the air circulating too. This is surprisingly important. If the air is static the plants will not prosper.

Seeds need to be warm to germinate. They will be comfortable in a temperature between 60-70F during the day and will generally tolerate 50-60F overnight. Covering them with plastic or fabric or newspaper can assist in keeping them warm until they sprout.

Make sure your indoor seedlings are kept moist but not soggy. Once proper leaves appear (the first two are just seed leaves) feed them with a weak fish fertilizer mixed with water.

As the seedlings mature and near time to enter the garden proper, they need to be 'hardened off'. This means moving them outdoors for progressively longer periods each day. Start them off in a protected part of the garden and bring them back in at night. As they get stronger, they will be prepared to withstand the actual conditions in the garden much more successfully.

If you start your seedlings indoors, it will get you 'gardening' much sooner in the year and excite the old spring fever!

Judy Williams ( splits her time between being a media executive and an earth mother goddess. No Dig Vegetable Gardens represents a clean, green way to grow your own food. The site covers all aspects of growing, cooking and preserving your harvest.

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