Thursday, March 4, 2010

Starting Seeds Indoors

I've dabbled in gardening pretty much my entire life, but it wasn't until about four years ago that I got serious about gardening. That change came about when we decided we wanted to live a more self sufficient lifestyle.

The garden can provide a bounty of food for your family in the summer, and through the winter if you freeze or can your summer abundance. Gardening can be done for very little money. The cost comes in your own labor. For me it is a labor of love.

Our garden season is almost here, and I couldn't be more thrilled. We have been making plans and preparing for the planting season. One preparation is to start seeds indoors. This is a relatively new gardening activity for me. Buying plants adds greatly to the cost of the garden. Seeds are cheap. So, last year we turned an old bath tub in to a seed nursery.

But you don't need that much space to start seeds indoors. All seeds need to grow is a dirt, light, and water. A sunny window will often do the trick.

If you have composted dirt, this is perfect for starting your seeds. Potting soil will work just fine too. There are a lot of different containers that you can use. Last year I saved containers from plants I bought. I am using those and some repurposed yogurt tubs with a couple holes punched in the bottom. I used toilet paper tubes last year, but was not real thrilled with them. About any small container will work. Just be sure that there are drainage holes in the container.

After the container is filled with dirt, it is time for the seeds. Most seeds do not need to be planted very deeply. Check the package for the type of seed you have.

I usually make a small hole in the dirt with the sharpened tip of  a pencil. Place two seeds in each hole. And cover with dirt again.

The best way to water your newly planted seeds and seedlings is to give them a good soaking from the roots up. I like to fill the tub with an inch or two of water, and  place the containers right into the water. Let them sit there until the dirt is good and saturated.

Place the containers in a well lit and warm place. A sunny window will often do the trick. A simple fluorescent light placed a few inches above the containers will also work.

After a week or so, depending on the type of seeds you have planted, tiny little seedlings will begin to pop through the dirt. A little while later they will get their first true leaves.

When they start to get their true leaves, it is time to thin them out. We plant two seeds in each space, just in case one seed does not germinate, but if they both did germinate one of them has to go. Simply snip the weaker seedling at the dirt level, or you can pull it out.

Continue to keep the plants warm, water when the soil feels dry, and give them light for 12-14 hours a day. If you are using artificial light, a garden timer is a convenient way to control the light. When it is time to plant out side, you need to harden the plants off first. That simply means to put them outside a little more each day to get them used to the outside conditions before you plant them there.

The plants that I have started indoors have not looked as big or lush as the ones I see in the store. Last year we planted home grown plants and store purchased ones. Based on last year, the home grown ones soon caught up and performed as well or better than the ones that came from the store. The plants started from seed only cost a fraction of the plants purchased in the store.

Starting seeds indoors is not difficult, and does not take much time either. Gardening from seed is also a step toward self sufficiency. Saving our own seeds from one season to start most of our plants the next season is my goal.  It can save you a lot of money, but I have to admit my favorite part is that it relieves a little of my cabin fever. It does me good to play in the dirt a little and watch things grow.


  1. I am so ANTSY to start my garden, too! I am just 2 weeks away from starting my seeds. I can't believe we are that close! I just posted a video on my blog about starting seeds in newspaper, perhaps you could try a few in that and see how it goes. Good luck and happy spring!!

  2. Thanks for posting this. I have never gardened but started reading a book about it earlier this week. I considered starting seed like you mentioned but I am not sure I will for my first attempt at it. What are the easier veggies to grow, that do not take a lot of hard work?

  3. lajamison,
    I think green beans are about the easiest thing to grow. I especially like pole beans.

    Lettuce is super easy. it just needs to be planted early in the spring or fall. radishes too

    tomatoes have earned their spot in the garden b/c they are easy.

    hot peppers always seem to well with little effort. I have not been as successful with the sweet variety

    if you like okra that is another easy to grow veggie

    What does your family like?

  4. Great post!! I'm so eager to begin my veggie garden. Today my dear hubby & myself are going to make a large raise garden box. I'm also hoping to start some seeds indoors this weekend. Happy gardening to you!! Have a wunnaful weekend =)

  5. Just found your blog through a button on another...This is my first time trying to start my garden from seeds. I've got seeds going in a bathtub, too! Except it isn't an old one:) we have a shower and a separate tub in our master bathroom and never use the tub, so I put a piece of plywood across it, hung some shop lights and voila, seed starting station! I've been using foil over them to provide a bit of reflective help as well! I can't wait to see how these guys do!

    So far we have parsley, brussels, marigolds, eggplant and peppers up! No sign of the tomatoes, which makes me a little nervous...

  6. Awesome! My hubby started some seeds yesterday, I have an old sink I might used like you did the tub now. Great ideas!

  7. We just started our seeds indoors too!


Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!