Spring enters the garden season by starting the seedlings indoors

This article was written by Kristen Canan, Greenhouse Assistant, Parkview Community Greenhouse.

Starting garden seeds indoors is a great way to get a head start on your summer garden. By following a few simple steps, you can bring a little spring into your home despite the cold, gloomy weather outside.

What to grow and when

Believe it or not, you can sow many popular types of garden vegetables indoors. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, okra, eggplant, and melons are great choices. However, seedlings such as melons, squash and cucumbers do not transplant well, so be sure to sow them in individual pots, which will give them more room to grow. Once you’ve decided what to plant, you’ll need to refer to the back of the seed packet for when to plant your chosen vegetables (or flowers) outdoors, then count down to determine when to start sowing your seeds indoors. interior.

What you will need

To start your seeds indoors, you will need a container and a medium to plant them in, such as a pressed peat pellet or seed starter mix. You can find seed starter containers or flats at your local garden or home improvement store. To preserve your seedlings, you can also reuse food containers, such as yogurt pots or egg cartons. Simply drill a hole in the bottom for drainage.

Additionally, grow lights and heat mats are optional when starting seedlings indoors. They can be purchased online or at your local garden center. Shop lights or bulbs can be cheaper than grow lights and can be used if the intensity (lumens) and color (Kelvins) of the light are within the range the plants need, 1500-3000 lumens and 4500-6500 Kelvins. But if you don’t have light, you can place your seedlings in a sunny window (south-facing, if possible), then rotate the container every few days to ensure even light distribution. Also, to speed up germination, try using a humidity dome or covering the container with a plastic bag. Once the seeds have sprouted, remove them.

Planting and maintenance

You will want to wet your peat pellets or fill your containers with seed starter mix and tamp it down. Follow the directions on the back of your seed packet to determine how deep to plant each seed. Most seeds need darkness to germinate, so you will need to cover your seeds with a light layer of starter mix or vermiculite. Then you can water the seeds with a spray bottle or by filling the bottom of the tray or saucer with water. As soon as your seeds germinate, place your seedlings under your chosen light source and water when the top layer of soil or potting mix becomes dry. You will also want to fertilize your plants once they have developed their first set of true leaves. You can achieve this by using all-purpose plant food. However, you will need to halve the fertilizer rate for the first few applications to avoid burning the young plants. Also, once your seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, you will need to thin them out. Avoid disturbing the roots by cutting the stems instead of pulling. At this point, your seedlings can now be transplanted into larger containers. Just be sure to give them a drink of water after disturbing them.

Move your plants outside

Before you move your plants outside, it’s important to note that frost can damage many fruits and vegetables, so it’s best not to transplant your seedlings outside until the last danger of frost has passed. has passed. Additionally, you will want to give your plants time to acclimate to the outdoor weather at least 1-2 weeks before transplanting them into the garden. Start by placing the plants outside in a shady spot, then slowly move your plants to a sunnier spot for a few days. After this process, they are ready to be transferred to your garden.

Useful resources

For helpful tips or to learn more about preparing your garden, please visit:

Tips to prepare your garden for the season

Get ready to garden

How to Fertilize and Water Garden Plants

How to sow your garden

Join the fun!

Are you excited to grow your garden from seed this year? Share photos of your creative indoor seed setup to greenhouse.learningkitchen@parkview.com for a chance to win a free plant voucher that can be used during our plant sale on May 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.