Thinking about starting vegetable seeds indoors? If yes, here’s a complete stepwise guide that will help you understand the procedure thoroughly!
So you have finally decided to establish your own mini-vegetable garden? Well, that’s really a great idea since homegrown veggies and fruits are way richer in flavour and nutrients than those available in groceries stores. If you are new to growing vegetables, you might get confused between two options; whether you should go with the transplant or start from seeds? Your answer lies in the motive behind the task!
Remember, you have decided to move towards growing vegetables within the home just for enjoying a wide variety, richer flavours and to get access to 100% organic edibles. Now, if you buy the transplants, you will be doing nothing but fooling yourself with a delusion.
Most of the transplants you buy from the nurseries are usually of average or below-average quality, so the veggies they produce would be nothing different. Plus, nurseries also keep a limited stock of transplants when it comes to variety.
On the other hand, while starting from seeds, you won’t only be able to get high-quality seeds to get premium quality veggies effortlessly but you’ll also be able to customise your growing conditions to make the yield 100% natural and chemical-free. And don’t forget to add the brownie points of being affordable – even the superior-grade seeds with a 100% germination rate will be much cheaper than transplants.
The list of pros continues and seems like it will never end. So, here we are, with our how-to guide about starting vegetable seeds indoors. Keep on reading the article and unravel the easy steps so you could say HOLA to a healthier and organic lifestyle sooner.
How to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors: A stepwise guide
Step 1: Gather the supplies
From seeds to seed mix and pots, you need to get too many things to start vegetable seeds indoors. The good thing is all these supplies are not too extravagant and can be bought in a few dollars.
If you have been associated with gardening ever before, then odds are you might already have most of the supplies. Start with the seeds. You can either buy the commercially available seed packets or preserve them out of the produce.
Some vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots can be easily grown from the vegetable itself so, in that case, you just need to visit your local grocery stores to purchase veggies. On the other hand, while pushing seeds, try to get only the freshest ones. Remember, the older the seeds are, the lesser their germination rate.
After getting seeds, get the seed mix that is developed mainly for growing seeds and seedlings. Our experts strongly recommend not to use your garden soil seeds indoors since it contains an abrupt quantity of nutrients and comes with a higher risk of diseases.
On the other hand, soil mix is not the soil itself, but a mixture of nutrients and essential components which let your seeds sprout faster, without making them prone to diseases. Also, soil mix also holds better water-absorbing capacity and better drainage to prevent your pot from pooling.
After soil mix, the next thing you need to get is a pot or container wherein you will grow your vegetable seeds. There’s no need to get fancy, high-grade pots. You can just recycle the plastic or cardboard food containers and cans like yoghurt can or egg cartons. Whatever type of container you use, don’t forget to poke holes at its bottom. Through these holes, the excessive water will drain out.
Once the seedlings will emerge, you need to get half-power fertiliser to add to the soil mix. Such fertilisers help seedlings to grow stronger and longer roots and shoot in less time. Also, since you are growing seeds indoors, you also have to purchase fluorescent lights to fulfil the plant’s sunlight needs. However, if you indoors get 6-8 hours of sunlight within your house, you don’t need to purchase fluorescent lights.
Step 2: Sow your seeds
Now, since you’ve collected all the essentials needed to start seeds indoors, you can move toward the most fun part: sowing the seeds. First of all, fill your pots or container with the potting mix fully.
Remember, the pots you are using should be deep enough to bury the seed completely. After filling the potting mix into the containers, make some depressions using your fingers, where you’ll bury the seeds.
If you don’t want to use fingers, you can do the same using an unsharpened pencil or the rear end of a ballpoint. Usually, the answer to How deep you should bury your seeds is stated over the seed packet. If not, you can use the general rule of thumb according to which, the sowing depth should be thrice the width of the seed.
In this case, to grow smaller seeds like those of tomatoes, you can use even the flat trays, filled with potting mix. On the other hand, for bigger seeds like peas and beans, you need relatively bigger and deeper pots.
Remember, you have to choose only the biggest and healthiest seeds to grow inside the pot to ensure 100% germination. Also, sow numerous seeds, at a time, within a single pot so one of them would grow for sure. After burying the seeds, cover the surface with another layer of soil mix and water it.
Do not use a tap or watering can since it will deteriorate the entire soil surface and even can damage the seed and delicate seedling. Get a water sprayer or turkey baster to dampen the growing medium and puke a toothpick into the pot for ventilation purposes.
Step 3: Wait for the seedling to sprout out
Now, most of the work has been done and all you need to do is wait and take care of a few things. Seeds need warmer soil to sprout so you need to place your pot in a hotter room or above the refrigerator or another all-time-functional appliance.
In this way, the soil mix within the container would stay warm and the seed would transform into seedlings earlier. To keep the heat inside the system, cover the mouth of the pot with a plastic sheet. Doing so will also help to prevent dehydration.
Don’t worry about the airflow since the toothpick-based ventilation will allow sufficient air to pass through the system and discard all chances of mould and fungus growth. However, you need to make sure that the soil mix stays damp 24/7 and whenever you detect a lower moisture level, water it.
Once the seedlings start to sprout out, remove all the covering sheets and place the pot in a window or terrace to absorb sunlight. Also, discard all the additional seedlings from the pot and choose only the healthiest and biggest one to keep growing.
Step 4: Maintain your seedlings
Most gardeners get completely relieved as soon as they see their seedlings bursting the topmost soil layer; however, that’s the point where your plants need most of your attention and care.
Especially when you are growing indoor plants, there are way too many risks of catching diseases due to overwatering or over-nurturing. Thus, to maintain your seedlings and let them flourish into flavorful veggies, you need to make sure about some aspects.
First of all, you need to provide longer and stronger hours of sunlight to your plant. Even if your window gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight, it will not be sufficient for some vegetable plants. Also, since most of the spring days are cloudy, foggy, or rainy, you need to acquire a man-made grow light where you can place your seedlings during nights and cloudy days.
Besides sunlight, also make sure to water your seedlings after every few days but don’t overwater since it can lead to damping diseases. The best time to water your seedling is when the topmost layer of soil gets slightly dry.
If you detect any mould growth within the pot, try to scrape it out using a spoon or a knife. But be careful so you don’t damage the delicate roots of your seedling. After your seedlings develop two to three leaves, add another dosage of half-strength fertiliser and keep on adding one after another, every week, to fulfil its nutritional content.
Don’t forget, there’s no need to add any supplemental feed into the pot until there are prominent sets of leaves. Otherwise, the mighty components of the formula might burn the entire little plant in a few minutes.
Try to maintain the temperature of the room between 21°C-26°C. Remember that the higher temperatures may lead to stunning root and shoot growth so, the room temperature should never exceed 37°C in any way. Once the seedlings start turning into mature plants, you should start preparing them for transplanting into garden beds or huge plant pots.
Use the hardening off technique to prepare them for outdoor transplanting. In this method, we bring the potted plants into the outside environment for a few hours daily, to introduce them to new conditions. However, if you are not planning on shifting your plants into an outdoor environment, there’s no need to undergo this technique.