Indoor Seed Starting Tips for Beginners

Posted on Feb 24 2012 - 1:04am by Mike Lieberman

Today I am going to share basic indoor seed starting tips

…along with common mistakes and how to avoid them.

It will be a good starting point if it’s your first time, and reminder for those of you who have done this before.

The main reason that you are going to want to start your seeds indoors is so that you can get a jumpstart on the season and to the harvest quicker.

I’ll say that again —

Start your seeds indoors, so you can get to the harvest quicker. — Tweet This

4 Basic Tips for Starting Your Seeds Indoors

Start Your Seeds on Schedule
Seed packets come with a lot of information on them. Most of which gets ignored. If you look closely, the seed packet will tell how approximately how many days until the seed will sprout and be ready to be planted. It will also let you know when is the recommended time to plant outdoors. Do a little bit of math and figure out when you should get those seeds started.

Know What You Planted
This sounds ridiculously obvious, but often gets overlooked. We think we’ll remember and don’t label them and sure enough as soon as we walk away, we forgot. Happens every time. Don’t take the lazy way out and just label them from the start.

Give the Seeds Even Sunlight
The tendency is often to keep the seeds in one position and just water them. When you do that, you’ll notice your seeds start to develop a lean to them. That’s because they are stretching towards the sun. To prevent that rotate the seed tray every few hours. That should help to straighten them out.

Know Your Seed Source
You are going to want to make sure that you are buying from a seed company that cares as much about your health and environment as you do.

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4 Common Seed Starting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

I asked Michelle Moore, owner of the year round gardening supply company The Greenhouse Catalog (one of my sponsors), about common indoor seed starting mistakes and how to avoid them. Here is what she said:

Over or Under Watering
“Using a media like coconut pith or coir is a wonderful way to control the moisture content-especially if you water from the bottom,” said Moore. “The coir wicks water as needed so seeds don’t get soggy. Don’t forget to add diluted fertilizer within 72 hours after the first leaves appear.”

Growing in Low-Light Conditions
“South facing windows may work well, as long as the spot isn’t drafty and daylight lengths are greater than 12 hours,” suggested Moore. “Supplementing with grow lights (up to 18 hours of light) will speed up growth. Make sure to read the directions for each grow light as it’s a common mistake to place the light source too far away from the plants.”

Temperatures Too Cool for Root Growth
“Cool temperatures on the surface encourage compact growth, but roots need warmth,” said Moore. “Adding bottom heat with a seedling heat mat encourages healthy root growth, which makes for healthy plants. Make sure to use a media that won’t dry out too quickly with bottom heat.”

Not Starting Enough Seeds
“It’s also a good idea to plant more seeds than you will need,” recommended Moore. “This will allow you to pick the healthiest starts to plant.”

Your turn

Now that you have some basic tips and mistakes to avoid laid out, in the comments below let me know what vegetable seeds you’ll be starting indoors and when.

Image courtesy of normanack on Flickr