Starting vegetable seeds indoors for transplanting is a great way to give you a head start on the growing season. Besides, it gives you flexibility over your garden because you can plant various plants to serve your needs well. It also gives you control over the growing dates of your location.
If you are an organic gardener, you will love starting garden seed indoors because you will not have to worry about purchasing seedlings that have been exposed to harmful chemicals. However, before you start an indoor vegetable garden for transplanting, you need to understand how the entire process works to ensure you get it right from the beginning. The following is a comprehensive guide on starting garden seed indoors successfully.
Know the vegetable seeds that can start with an indoor garden
Before you start vegetable seeds in an indoor garden, you should first check whether they are ideal for transplanting.
Prime candidates to start growing indoors
1. Seeds with slower root development
Seeds that fall into this category include cauliflower, peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, tomatoes, and broccoli.
2. Tender vegetables
These vegetables are vulnerable to cold temperatures, and if they are exposed to cold outdoor temperatures when they are starting, they might not survive. Such vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
Vegetables to avoid starting garden seed indoors
1. Don’t transplant well
These vegetables resist transplanting and are likely to die once they are moved to a new location. Therefore, they should not be started indoors. Such vegetables include cucumber, squash, or pumpkins.
2. Root Vegetables
The root structure of these vegetables should not be disturbed right from when they are formed. They include beets and carrots.
Vegetables with taproots don’t do well when they’re transplanted. Therefore, you should avoid starting garden seed indoors for such vegetables. They include parsley, carrots, and dill.
4. Fast growing and cold tolerant
If a vegetable grows fast and can tolerate cold outdoor temperatures during its early stages of growth, you don’t have to start sowing its seeds in an indoor garden. Radishes are an example of such vegetables.
Process of starting garden seed indoors
Now that you know which vegetable seeds you can start with an indoor garden and which you shouldn’t, how do you go about the whole process?
Seed starting is meant to prepare seedlings for outdoor planting when the weather is good. Therefore, based on your region’s climate, you can know the right timing to start the seeds in an indoor garden. However, consider the time a vegetable takes to be ready for outdoor transplant to get the perfect timing to start it indoors. The seed packet should have these details.
2. Growing medium
Seedlings are delicate and require a highly optimum place to thrive. Therefore, you should prepare a fresh, light, and fluffy seed-starting mix and place it in containers with drainage holes. The mix should have just enough moisture and be disinfected to avoid attacks from diseases. A heavy or sticky mixture will make it hard for fine roots to push through, which will cause the seeds to fail to grow.
The seedlings need feeding in terms of watering to facilitate their growth. It would be best to water them with a watering can and avoid splashing large drips to avoid uprooting or damage their root structure. The plants should also have good airflow to prevent the accumulation of disease-causing organisms around the area.
Your seedlings need plenty of lighting for their growth. Lack of lighting can result in long-limbed and weak plants. Also, they require darkness to rest. Therefore, your indoor garden should be situated in a place where you can control the lighting.
Sudden exposure to the outdoor environment can affect them and can sometimes kill them. That is why there should be a steady transition from the current environment to the outdoor through a process called hardening off. The process can entail placing the seedlings in a partly shaded place for a few hours and then covering them during the night. Do this daily as you increase the exposure to sunshine and wind. This should be done a week before transplanting.
Precautions when starting garden seed indoors
When starting your vegetable seeds indoors, you should observe the following precautions;
- Buy your seeds from trusted sources only to ensure they are high quality, increasing their germination rate.
- Avoid using garden soil because it may be infected. Also, don’t re-use soil from the last seed starting.
- Plant the seeds at the appropriate depth. The seed packet should indicate this. However, small seeds should not be buried deep, while larger ones may require a deeper depth.
Starting garden seed indoors is a great way to spur your garden. It will save you money to buy seedlings and give you control of the plants and the vegetables they produce from the beginning. Use the above guide to ensure you have a successful vegetable garden.