It’s that time of year! We’re inching closer to spring, and starting to think about our gardens.
Growing flowers and vegetables from seed is economical and can be very satisfying. Many annuals can’t take cold weather, so to have a longer season of flowering or fruiting, it is preferable to start them indoors. Here are some tips for starting seeds indoors:
1. Start them at the right time. Many plants can’t be planted outside until after the last frost date (around May 10th here in Holliston). They shouldn’t be too tiny or too overgrown when you plant them, so check the info on the back of the packet for each type of seed to see how soon to start them.
2. Use a light and fluffy, but moisture retentive ‘soil’ to plant the seeds in. Regular garden soil is usually too heavy for little seedling roots and doesn’t drain well enough. If you are using your own mixture, make sure it is sterile.
3. Cover with plastic to retain moisture until the seeds sprout.
4. When the seed start sprouting, uncover and give lots of light. Put them in a sunny window or under some fluorescent shop lights hung two inches above the plants.
5. Use the right amount of water. Water the seedlings when they start to get dry, but be sure not to overwater!
6. Put on a fan. Air circulation helps prevent fungal diseases that kill seedlings. Keep a fan on low near the seedlings.
7. Harden them off before planting. A week or two before planting outside, the plants need to start acclimating to the elements. Put them in a shady, protected place outdoors for a couple hours on the first day, and then gradually increase their exposure to the sun and breeze until they are ready to be planted.