LHITS Gardening Step #6: Indoor Seed Starting
In this step, you’ll find four things:
- Why to start seeds indoors
- How to figure out WHEN to start seeds indoors
- How to keep them happy indoors
- Which helps you decide WHAT to start indoors
WHY to Start Seeds Indoors
- Frugality–seeds are much less expensive than already grown baby plants.
- To raise rare breeds–if you don’t like the run-of-the-mill tomatoes at the feed store, then starting your own at home is where it’s at.
- Because you LIKE it–some folk just enjoy running a small nursery in the middle of February
WHEN to Start Seeds Indoors
Seed starting season runs from ABOUT Valentine’s to Labor Day. On Valentine’s you’re starting things that will go in the ground a few weeks before frost or just after. Again, around the middle of the summer, you’ll start another batch to go in the ground for the fall. To figure out EXACTLY when to start your seeds indoors, check out our two fabulous FREE printables:
- SPRING PLANNER: this little notebook will tell you when to sow indoors for the spring and summer season.
- FALL PLANNER: this little book will tell you when to sow indoors for the fall planting season
Why are there TWO? Well, planting is based on frost dates. and just because two regions have matching LAST FROST dates, doesn’t mean they have matching FIRST FROST dates. Some regions may have a super long growing season while others have something really short. So between the two little notebooks is an undetermined number of weeks…until you determine it for your area.
I particularly like THIS PLANNER( which doesn’t have sowing indoors) for working out my planting weeks since they’re all on the same page. Then I enter the dates into one of the above planners for a really detailed plan for the year. My LAST FROST in the Spring is TAX day and my FIRST frost is ten days after Halloween. So, my EIGHTH week “after last frost” OVERLAPS with my 22 week “before first frost.” This may seem overly complicated, but I can assure you, you only have to do it once in your life. It doesn’t move around each year like Easter.
So, now that I have my planners set up, I can find where I am on my calendar. I like to use a Tentative Detailed Yearly Plan (2012 watch out, Mothers Day is wrong) to quickly reference which week I’m on.
Then I flip to the right week in my little garden planner and I see that right now, in early May, that I could seed start lettuce indoors.
The only reason to start lettuce indoors right now is if the outdoor temp is already above 80F or still below 70F. It’s already hot here, so I would need to start it indoors if I want the seeds to germinate. There’s really nothing else for me to start indoors until Late June.
HOW to keep them happy
We are really stingy about seed starting. It’s got to be something we’re just IN LOVE with, because it’s a high-maintenance activity. Plants aren’t native to indoor environments, so they don’t really like being there. The whole time they’re in your house, you have to artificially prop them up and fight off all kinds of yuck.
- Make some newspaper pots or packs.
- You will either need a really sunny window, an outdoor greenhouse, or a grow light. Here’s one we built.
- You’ll need soil. Here’s a post on that.
- You’ll need to fight the fungus. Here’s a post on THAT.
I think the easiest way to get started is to grow some microgreens. Once you get the hang of that, then you can move onto heirloom tomatoes and the like.
WHAT to start indoors
Now that you know WHEN and HOW to start seeds indoors for most plants, you can decide for which plants you’re willing to go to the effort.
Make list of everything you REALLY like and highlight it in your planners. Find where you are in the season and get those seeds started!
And don’t forget to:
Advanced gardening series: 7) Succession planting 8)Companion planting 9) Permaculture