You don’t need a greenhouse to grow seedlings, you can start them indoors! Here is a list of what you’ll need:
- 6 packs/egg cartons/creative containers Seeds can be planted in just about any container, as long as it has drainage. Poke holes using a sharp pencil.
- potting soil/compost Use a mixture of 1/2 potting soil and 1/2 compost. It’s best to avoid garden soil, as it may contain pathogens that cause seeds to die off (damping off is one such disease). Also, compost MUST be composted. Never use fresh manure or material that has not been composted.
- seeds It’s easy to get carried away and plant too many. Don’t worry about using all the seeds that come in a packet. Most seeds will last for at least 2-3 years if kept in a cool, dark place away from heat and moisture. Just reseal and use the rest next year. If you do plant too many, just share with friends!
- watering can Make sure it has lots of tiny holes and has a sprinkler effect so you don’t splash the soil and seeds out of their containers. Keep soil moist until seedlings emerge and while they grow.
- time for “hardening-off” This is the simple process of allowing the seedlings to sit outside for 2-3 hours in a protected place. Increase exposure to sunlight gradually.
Start one month before your desired planting date. For spring, count back a month before the last chance of frost date. This date varies from region to region. You can find out by contacting your local Cooperative Extension Office or, click here for info from Victory Garden Seeds.
Do not bury seeds too deeply. This is one of the reasons they may not appear to sprout. In many cases (seeds that need a depth of 1/8 to 1/4″) it’s best to set seeds on top of the soil, sprinkle lightly with a handful of soil and then lightly with water. It’s important to remember NOT to fertilize seedlings. They are small and tender and cannot withstand fertilizer until they are at least 6-8 weeks old. Protect young seedlings from pests like slugs and snails, earwigs and sowbugs as well as birds. Remember, if you plant it, THEY will come. And they are HUNGRY! There are many environmentally friendly choices on the market. In most cases, I advise against using “home remedies” as there are no official recipes for products like salt, soap, etc. and you may do more damage than good to your soil in the long run. Beer snail traps, on the other hand, are definitely safe and effective. 😉