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  • Writer's pictureSheri

How to Start Seeds Indoors

If you aren't growing at least a small portion of your own food, now is a great time to start!

On our farm, we have a basement room with grow lights where we start our seeds indoors. Back when we were selling large quantities of produce to customers, we started indoors primarily in order to have tomatoes and other popular items very early in the season. But now that we are growing only for our own family, we still start many seeds indoors. Even if you have only a small space to work with, you can likely still start at least some of your own seeds!

There are two primary reasons you may wish to start seeds indoors:

1. To extend your growing season

2. For better quality control.

Extend your growing season

In many areas, extending the growing season is necessary to allow certain crops to get enough time to fully produce. This is usually the case in colder climates and for certain crops that have a longer production time such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons.

This is exactly why we start our seeds indoors and we also use a greenhouse to help us. But you can use a small hoop-house or small portable greenhouse to help you extend your season.

Growing seeds indoors can also be used in mid-summer when the soil and weather are too hot to germinate certain seeds. We do this with several varieties of plants that we want to last into fall. We’ll start them indoors midsummer, then transplant them once the weather isn’t so hot.

Controlling the Quality

By starting your seeds indoors you can control the environment which means you can control the outcome with much more accuracy.

Once you learn how to grow seeds indoors you can control the temperature, the light exposure, and even the moisture level.

With all this control, you’ll yield a much higher germination rate, which in turn saves you money because you don’t have to buy as many seeds to get the yield you want. You’ll also have stronger plants that will resist bugs and disease much better.

When Should You Start?

This answer will depend on a number of things! If you want to get your started plants into the ground as early as possible, you will need to know your last frost date for your area BEFORE you start your seeds.

In our area, the last typical frost date isn’t until May and we have learned the hard way that placing tomatoes into the ground in late April could still present an unexpected freeze which kills off our hard work! So be sure you have researched this information for your area.

You will also want to know when your FIRST frost date is for the fall. Then you can backtrack to ensure the things you are planting will have time to be harvested before the first frost. Some crops do well in colder weather and can be harvested through the fall, while others will not be ready. For this reason, there are certain crops we don’t raise at all because we know we won’t get enough time to harvest them. (Unless we are using the greenhouses.)

Know What You’re Planting

Before knowing HOW to grow plants indoors, you should have an idea of WHAT you want to grow. Find a reputable seed company and grab their catalog. Be sure to use a trusted source. We love Johnny’s Seeds because they have a large selection, do a good job of describing how to grow all of their seeds and typically have good instruction videos. They are also who we used to determine our best seed-starting soil. You can see that information in this video here. There are