Get a Jump-Start on Spring: Sowing Vegetable Seeds Indoors
Are you already day-dreaming about this year’s vegetable garden? In the dark days of winter, sowing your own vegetable seeds indoors can provide a welcome harbinger of spring, plus yield longer production during the growing season. This article walks you through the step-by-step process of sowing your seeds indoors and germination in time for spring planting.
Atlantic Gardening Company carries a comprehensive variety of heirloom and non-GMO seeds that grow well in this area. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons and squash respond well to indoor starts. For the best germination, choose seed packets that have been packaged for the current season. Read the seed packets for valuable information about planting, days to germinate, and days to maturity. You can determine the optimal time to sow your seeds by adding the “days to germinate” and “days to maturity” then backing those days from our last frost date (April 15th).
We recommend organic seed starting mixes from Foxfarm and Espoma. You’ll want to use shallow containers such as cell trays with drainage holes to start your seeds. You’ll need a low-volume watering can, plant labels, and a humidity dome.
How to Sow Seeds:
1. Fill cell trays with seed starting mix and dampen.
2. Plant seeds at the depth recommended on the seed packet. We recommend planting 2-3 seeds per cell. Put a thin layer of seed starting mix over the planted seeds and water. The seeds do not need sunlight until after they’ve sprouted.
3. Label each cell with plant labels. Include the variety and planting date.
4. Cover the tray with a humidity dome. This will help retain moisture during germination.
5. Place the tray on a heat mat (preferred) or refrigerator to keep the soil temperature warmer to promote germination. Heat mats are preferred because they provide a more consistent temperature. The seed packet will provide the ideal soil temperature for germination.
6. When seedlings emerge from the soil, slightly vent the humidity dome. When the second set of leaves emerge – known as true leaves – remove the cover and feed the seedlings with an all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer weekly. We carry a variety of organic fertilizers.
7. You only need 1 (one) seedling per cell. Using clean scissors, cut any extra seedlings in each cell near the base, leaving just one. Doing so allows the single seedling more room to spread its roots.
8. Now that seeds germinated they need light. Move the trays close to windows or under grow lights. Note: If you’re using grow lights, do not leave the lights on 24 hours a day! Seedlings need darkness to rest too!
9. After a few weeks of watering and fertilizing, some of the plants will need to be transplanted into larger pots. We recommend 4” pots to grow further before being introduced to the garden. Make sure to move the plant labels too. We carry a variety of plastic and compostable pots to meet your needs.
10. Before you plant, harden off young plants by introducing them to the outdoors for several hours at a time each day, gradually increasing the time spent outdoors, before leaving them outside permanently.