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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. Continued ›