Nutrition Articles

A Gardener's Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

Get a Jump on the Gardening Season!

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5. Control the temperature and humidity. Make sure the room temperature is regulated as well, ideally between 65 degrees and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for most seeds (consult your seed packet for specific instructions). An easy way to boost the temperature is to place a humidity dome over the plants or a heated mat under the plant trays. Make sure to maintain adequate moisture levels; soil should be damp, but not drenched. No fertilization is required during the germination period. If you are using any artificial heat, remove it when after the seeds sprout their first leaves.

6. Start thinning. Once your tiny plants start to sprout, it's time to show some tough love. Thinning might seem like a waste of a healthy plant, but it is a necessary step to help your seedlings become strong and healthy. To thin, clip the weaker sprouts at the soil level, as pulling them out can damage the delicate root systems. At this point, give the seedlings a half-strength fertilizer that is specific for houseplants about every two weeks.

7. Upgrade your containers. When several inches high, it's time to carefully transplant your seedlings into bigger containers. Try using some peat pots, as they are biodegradable and can be planted straight into the garden when outdoor conditions are appropriate.

8. Acclimate your plants to the outdoors. The final step is to transition your plants into the garden, a process called “hardening off.” After the threat of frost has passed, take your little seedlings outside for about an hour, in an area that is sheltered from the sun and wind. Gradually increase this time and exposure to the outdoors over a two-week period until, finally, your little plants are ready to be planted into the garden—ideally on an overcast day. (If you purchased seedlings from a store, ask the seller whether or not they were hardened off, though assume so if the plants were outside when you bought them.) 

9. Transplant your plants into the garden. Whether you are planting seeds directly into the soil or transplanting seedlings, consult your seed packet for sowing depth and spacing. (or, as a general rule, dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as your transplants). Handle your seedlings carefully because, essentially, they are delicate babies.

10. Care for your new plants! Seedlings and directly-sown seeds require TLC once they are in the garden. Watering them regularly is important as they are in their infancy and not yet "established." Protect them from wind and predators (birds are notoriously munch on freshly planted seeds). Mulching around plants, once established, is a helpful way to increase moisture retention, too.
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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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