Nutrition Articles

A Gardener's Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

Get a Jump on the Gardening Season!

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Starting Your Seeds Indoors
There are 10 simple steps to follow to start or "germinate" your seeds indoors. If you buy seedlings from a nursery, skip to step 8 below.

1. Choose a location. The best place to germinate your seeds is an area away from the everyday traffic (and pets) that's also warm, full of light, and free from drafts. Basements, shelves, and sun porches usually make suitable locations.

2. Gather your trays. Seed starting mixtures and trays are also widely available at nurseries and home improvement stores, but you can also make your own trays out of egg cartons, yogurt tubs or other "recycled" containers. Whatever you use, it's a good idea to sterilize your trays, especially if you are reusing them, and to use trays with adequate drainage holes at the bottom.

3. Plant your seeds. Fill your trays or containers about 2/3 full with your starter mix (or loose, fertile, and disease-free soil) and pat it down until it is level but still loose. Each type of seed has a different sowing depth so consult your seed packets for further instructions. A general rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice as deep as they are wide. Place several seeds in each container, but don't scatter too many as overcrowding will inhibit proper growth. Don't forget to label what you are growing, especially if you have multiple trays of different seeds growing simultaneously.

4. Provide adequate lighting. To sprout, seeds need 12-16 hours of light, so growing them under a fluorescent light is ideal. A windowsill is not an option even in the sunniest spot in your home, as late summer or early spring has unpredictable light at best—and usually not 12-plus hours' worth. Most gardeners agree that a 40-watt fluorescent light works well.
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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

Member Comments

  • I invested in a special grow light system a couple of years ago, and want to upgrade next Winter. It is more economical, and a new fun skill to learn. - 5/29/2015 10:23:04 AM
    My garden has started looking pretty lush this year. Last year it was quite sparse with a few Zucchini taking over the whole plot. The experience I gained however gave me the skills to plant the right plants this year and produce a good yield. Or it could be that I just got better seeds this year.

    -seed-mixes.html - 1/6/2015 6:32:13 PM
  • Appreciate the tips! I was shocked to open my seed packets recently and find so few seeds. One only had three seeds in it!! I went back to the store and the rest of similar packets only had six. Planted same flowers last year from one packet. Arrgh!! Like so many other things.. price is up and packages are smaller. Makes careful starting even more important. - 4/21/2014 8:48:14 AM
  • I love my garden. Can't wait for the summer to come. It look so pretty when they coming up. But this year I want be able to have a garden because I am having a right shoulder replacement. - 1/11/2014 10:19:26 AM
  • I am new to SparkPeople and am in the process of learning to navagate the website. I am really excited that I found this article. I am also a new retiree and am looking for activities to fill my day. I'm into this one!!!

    Thanks - 2/12/2013 2:32:00 PM
  • Regarding the tickleme plant. I have one in my classroom. My student is the asian girl sitting on the front steps in the commercial! I'm soooo proud of her. At the beginning of the school year she brought me the plant starter kit. It's so cool! - 4/26/2011 9:56:30 AM
  • DONNA558
    I love the TickleMe Plant. It is the only houseplant that MOVES when you Tickle It. This is no joke. The leaves fold up and even the branches fall down when Tickled? If you have kids or Grandkids it's a must product. SEE VIDEO! You may not believe your eyes but it is real.
    http://www.tick - 4/8/2011 8:55:14 AM
  • My father always planted by the OLD FARMER'S ALMANAC and had great gardens. - 4/8/2009 9:27:50 PM

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