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Starting seeds indoors


Starting seeds indoors is reasonably easily as long as you're willing to give up some space. The space we need is the sunniest window of the house and it needs to be warm -- in short, the place you most like to be! It should have a a flat surface, such as a kitchen counter or a table, set next to the window. Sunlight is the essential factor so anything facing south, southeast or southwest would be fine.

The growing mixture is key for a "worry-less" seed growing enterprise. Use a germinating mix, supplied in bags at your garden centre. These mixes are screened and sterilized and will be able to sustain the seedlings until you transplant them outdoors.

Containers can be of many types, but they must have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and they must be wider than they are tall. Peat pots are good as long as you keep them moist. Square containers will snug closely together which is a bonus for space, humidity and watering. Square or rectangular "flats" are ideal for sowing seeds which will later be transplanted.

To wet the growing mix before putting it in the pots, empty the bag of mix into a large container (a wheelbarrow or a garbage can) and add enough water to make the soil lightly damp. You will need to stir it around a bit to eliminate clumps and make sure it is evenly dampened.

Fill the pots by pouring or gently troweling the soil into the containers. Tamp the filled pots down with a neighbouring pot of the same size. This will give the proper compaction level for air spaces and give enough space for easier watering.

What to Grow.

When planting seeds, gardeners have a tendency to grow too much of too many things. Many varieties of transplants are available at the garden centre for very reasonable prices, so the decision to grow your own should not be financially driven.

Select unique varieties of flowers and vegetables which you are less likely to find. Herbs, such as Basil, are a must for the "self sower". Don't be embarrassed if your only crop is Basil......there are so many varieties!

How to Sow.

Sprinkle the seed over the soil surface or in rows. Larger seeds can be planted into containers which will be directly transplanted outdoors. Plant the seeds to a depth of 3 times the seeds' diameter. Small seeds need only a sprinkling of soil mix over the surface after seeding. Water gently.

When to Sow.

Don't plant too soon. In general most seeding projects should take place about 5-7 weeks before the last expected frost date. Any sooner than this, in most cases, and the seedlings will start to decline before you put them out in the garden.

Growing Conditions.

To germinate, seed requires a warm bottom and moist air. This can be provided by covering the containers with plastic and keeping the area misted. The soil needs to be kept warm and the area should be shaded from direct sunlight until germination takes place, usually 1-2 weeks.

After the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic and place them in direct sunlight. When the first true leaves appear, fertilize with a dilute solution of Water Soluble 10-52-10. Fertilize again in 2 weeks. Keep rotating the containers to prevent the seedlings from leaning towards the sunlight.

Keep the seedlings growing in their pots until it's safe to plant outside.


Daisy Moore, 1998.



Other spring garden tips:

(click on the tip you want to read)


Designing Gardens

Fertilizing the Garden
Ready for Spring
Starting Seeds Indoors
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Dormant Spraying
Planning the Vegetable Garden
Planting Early Vegetables
Early Season Care of Perennial Beds
Plants for an Early Spring Show
Cut Flowers for the Home Garden
Growing the Perfect Potato
Lawn Care in Early Spring.....GRUB DAMAGE!
Spring Lawn Care
The Garden in May
Gardening with Native Plants
Sources of Native Plants
Shade Gardening
Planting Gladiolus and Other Summer Flowering Bulbs
Weed Control
Thatch in Lawns
Weeds or Wildflowers
Improving Your Soil
Marvellous Mulch
Selecting and Planting Shrubs
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Window Box Gardening
Growing Tomatoes
Fertilizing the Vegetable Garden



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Daisy Moore 2005