Starting Seeds Indoors
I love to grow my own food and have grown lots of fresh produce in my own backyard. I can’t imagine going outside and not having something to harvest for a meal.
Because I have been so successful at growing my own food, I often ask people why they don’t grow their own. I’ve found there are a few common reasons. The primary ones are:
- People think it’s going to take too much time – they can’t fit it into their busy schedules.
- They think its too complicated and just feel overwhelmed at the amount of information available on gardening.
- Some people think it’s too expensive to grow their own food and they just can’t do it on a budget.
Does this sound familiar? Then, you’re in the right place!
This post is about learning how to grow your own food, and do it in a quick, simple and inexpensive way. Anyone can have tasty, healthy food growing in their own backyard or patio! Even you!
Let’s begin by starting some seeds indoors. It’s quick and very simple to do and it can save you lots of money. When you start your garden from seeds, you won’t have to buy transplants at the garden center. Growing your own veggies from seed also opens up a whole new world of unique, flavorful varieties that you can’t find at a local garden center.
If you are new to gardening, you might be wondering why start seeds indoors? By getting your seedlings going inside about 6 weeks before your last frost date, as the weather warms up, you’ll have your own transplants to put into your garden – the savings. You’ll also get your garden going faster than you would if you waited to put seeds in the ground, which means an earlier harvest – the reward!
Selecting your seeds
The first thing you will need is some seeds. If you already have seeds, just use what you have, if you don’t, a great place to start is with $10 Garden Seed Kit. This kit has 10 packets of easy-to-grow seeds (a great price!), and includes a variety of easy -to-grow plants like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, and kale. Use the link above and you’ll even get a 10% discount.
It’s always best to start your garden with vegetables you already have a love for or familiarity with. You can always experiment with new varieties later.
Starting seeds indoors – 2 easy ways
There are two easy ways I like to start my seeds: in pellets and in cups with soil. Both ways work – it’s just a matter of preference.
Starting seeds in pellets
My favorite way to start seeds indoors is to use peat pellets, or coco coir pellets (a more sustainable option). These are compressed pellets of soil that expand when you add water in which you can plant individual seeds and grow individual seedlings.
Peat pellets are fairly inexpensive, and provide a quick way for gardeners with a busy schedule to get started.
It’s a piece of cake to start your seeds this way – because it doesn’t involve getting your house dirty with bags of potting soil or making your own seed starting mixture. Hundreds of my YouTube viewers have started seeds this way and are happy with how do-able, quick and convenient this method is!
- Put pellets in a tray and pour a few inches of warm water over them.
- Watch them expand and grow – kids love this!
- After a few minutes, the pellets will be fully expanded.
- Loosen up the soil with a toothpick.
- Drop two seeds in each pellet. It’s likely that at least one seed will germinate. (Don’t worry if you plant a few more seeds, you can thin the seedlings as they grow.)
- Cover up seeds lightly with the soil from the pellet (use a toothpick).
- Mist lightly with water with a spray bottle.
- Don’t forget to label your seeds so you know which varieties you are growing!
- Put your pellet tray in a warm place in your house, on top of the refrigerator works well.
- Seeds will germinate in 3-7 days.
I love to check on my seedlings daily, sometimes several times a day. They become my little “babies”! It’s always an exciting moment when I see my “babies” poke through the soil – that’s when I know I am on my way to eating my own fresh veggies very soon! I can’t wait for you to experience this feeling of pride!
In the meantime, keep an eye on them to see if they need watering. If the top of the pellets turn a lighter color, it’s time to water. Pour water slowly in the bottom of your tray until the pellets turn a dark color again. Make sure to pour off excess water.
Providing light for your seedlings
As soon as your seeds germinate, place them in a sunny window that gets 6-8 hours of sun per day, or put under an indoor grow light for 18 hours a day. Don’t be intimidated by getting indoor grow lights set up. The mantra here is “keep it simple”!
I like to use a simple grow light box made out of a plastic tub, a clip light and a special grow light bulb. It’s super easy (and very inexpensive) to make. Click here for a video on how to make a grow light box for your seedlings!
Transplanting Seedlings into Larger Containers
Once your seedlings in the pellets are a few inches tall, transplant them in to larger containers that will give them more room to grow. Otherwise they will get root bound (where the roots become tanged and matted) in the little peat pellets, will stop growing, and will not be productive plants. I like to use seed starter pots or styrofoam cups (and bagged potting soil) to transplant the new seedlings into. For all you busy people, this makes the transplanting process a quick one, and not a chore!
The first seeds of your spring garden are planted! Wasn’t that easy?
Cups and Soil
Another quick, simple, and inexpensive way to start seeds is with cups and soil. An advantage to this method is that it can save you time. The seedlings can stay in the cups longer and you won’t have to transplant them as quickly. Sometimes you may even be able to transplant right from the cups into the ground. This method is especially effective for larger seeds that grow quickly, such as cucumbers, watermelon, or squash.
I like to use seed starter pots or seed cells made from recycled material (easier on the environment) but use whatever you have around the house – it’s always good to repurpose! Some good options are old sour cream or yogurt containers, styrofoam or plastic cups.
You’ll also need a good quality seed starting mix or potting soil. You can make your own potting mix and save even more money, if you are so inclined. Do not use outdoor garden soil. It may bring unwanted pests indoors, and is not light enough for germinating seeds in containers.
- Using a nail or a drill, punch 5 drainage holes in the bottom of each container, if they don’t have holes already.
- Moisten your potting soil until it is the consistency of crumbly brownie mix. This will help the soil retain water.
- Fill the cups 3/4 full with potting soil.
- Poke two 1/4 to 1/8 inch holes in the soil of each cup and drop a seed in each hole. It’s likely that at least one seed will germinate, maybe both.
- Cover the seeds with potting soil.
- Tamp the soil down lightly.
- Place cups in a tray. I like to use disposable foil pans.
- Mist each cup lightly with water from a spray bottle.
- Don’t forget to label your seeds so you know which varieties you are growing!
- Put your tray of cups in a warm place in your house until they germinate, on top of the refrigerator works well.
- Your seeds will germinate in 3-7 days.
Watering your seedlings in cups
In the meantime, keep an eye on your cups to see if they need watering. If the soil turns a lighter color and looks dry, it’s time to water.
Pour water slowly in the bottom of your tray. The soil in the cups will soak up the water. After about 15 minutes, pour off whatever water is not absorbed.
After growing indoors for about 6 weeks, your seedlings will be ready for the outdoor garden! Transition them slowly to the outdoors, putting them in the sunlight for a few hours each day, slowly increasing the time they are outside. This process is called hardening off.
Only transplant your seedlings in your garden when the danger of frost is gone. Amend your garden with plenty of organic material and dig a hole a bit deeper than your seedling. Put your seedling in the hole, cover with soil and be proud of yourself for starting your garden!
Click to watch the video on my YouTube Channel: Starting Seeds Indoors – 2 Easy Ways // $10 Garden Series #1, Season 2 to see for yourself how easy it is!
You Did It!
Congratulations on getting your spring garden started! It CAN be quick, simple and inexpensive to grow your own food! When it comes to gardening, there are so many ways to do it. The way you chose depends on your specific situation, your growing conditions, your space, and your preferences. After all, gardening is supposed to be fun – do whatever YOU like to do!