3 essentials for starting seeds indoors

If you are new to gardening you might be a little intimidated when it comes to starting plants from seed. There’s no need to be afraid!
Companies today offer products that make it very simple to do.

Many vegetables we like to grow are from equatorial regions and cannot be started outdoors. They need longer growing seasons and warmer soils than an early Colorado spring can provide. To ensure successful seed germination you need to have three things. You need warm soil, light, and a clean growing environment. There are companies that can make your seed-starting experience quite easy. Jiffy offers seed starting kits that contain not only your heat mat, but also seed starting pellets that have the correct kind of medium for seed germination. These go by the name of heated professional greenhouses. Ferry Morse also provides a greenhouse and they range in price from $30 to $45. I have had my Greenhouse kit for many years and you can buy refill trays that have just the pellets for seed starting.

The next thing needed is light for your indoor gardening area. I have chosen to use flourescent shop lights with bulbs specifically made for plants. This in conjunction with a setup that allows height adjustment of the light above the plants is a cheaper alternative to light kits in a garden supply store.
Below is an example of my setup. You can see that I have used closet shelving from a hardware store and chain with links that allow me to adjust the height of the light. Add a couple s hooks and you are set. In addition I plug in the light into a wall outlet timer so that the light only comes on 12 hours per day.

Shop light attached via chain to shelf brackets to adjust height

Now you have all of your basic components. Let’s get the seed going!

I have two kinds of tomatoes and four kinds of peppers that I am going to start 8 weeks before the safe planting time in zone 5. First you want to add water to the trays that contain the pellets. I prefer to use warm water. This ensures the soil quickly heats up. Once the pellets have soaked up all the water you should see that they sit at least about a half an inch above their containers this is now time to add your seeds to the little holes in the center of the pellets and then slightly cover.

pepper seeds ready to be covered

Be sure to refer to the seed packets for sowing depth.
Once all seeds have been added you will want to cover your little Greenhouse with the clear plastic cover. This will keep both the heat and humidity where the seeds need it. And now wait. Your seed packet should tell you when to expect each seed to germinate. I prefer to track not only the seeds I purchase, but also the percentage of seeds that germinate. This tells me if the variety is reliable.

seed packets will give planting depth

To be safe plant more seeds then you intend to have in the garden so that you don’t have to start over if some do not germinate. Don’t forget to label your seeds. So many plants can look exactly alike when they first germinate.

In my next post I will talk about the next step after your seeds have germinated stay tuned!

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