Starting seeds indoors lets me get my hands in the dirt much earlier than if I wait to plant outdoors here in Wisconsin. I plan my garden in January and by March I've got my beds laid out on paper and my seeds purchased. Starting seeds indoors isn't difficult, but it does require some planning. In a nutshell, you need the same things indoors as you need outdoors: light, seeds, soil, water, food.
I buy seeds for veggies and greens that are not available at my local nursery, are heirloom veggies, and are plants that I replant and harvest May - October.
Start your seeds in a sunny window that gets at least 8 hours of sun per day. I have two large southern exposure windows where I start my seeds. Plant seeds in a flat shallow container with holes in the bottom for drainage. "Seed Starter Trays" do the trick; they're inexpensive, easy, have covers and can be re-used year after year.
Use a good organic potting soil, or make your own. What makes good potting soil? A mix that actually has no soil in it at all. It's a mix of peat, vermiculite, fertilizer and other loose matter and is both water retentive and well-draining and will not pack down like garden soil. It's also free of diseases and insects.
Plant the seeds according to packet directions:
* Fill each of the cells in the tray with 2 inches of potting mix,
* Water to soak that potting mix very well,
* Press seeds into the soil at the depth recommended on the seed packet,
* Mist with a sprayer so you don't drown the seeds,
* Cover the tray with the dome included with the trays or saran wrap,
* Water daily
* Feed plants once per week
(use a water soluble organic fertilizer at 1/4 the recommened strength)
Germination has occured when you see leaves pop up out of the soil; you've got your beautiful little seedlings off to a good start! You'll need to thin the seedlings. Pull and toss the smallest, weakest seedlings so that all of the energy is directed to the stongest and most viable plants.
Water and feed your seedlings until it's time to transplant them. You'll know it's time to transplant when you see three set of leaves. Use a spoon to gently lift the seedling out of the cell and into the pot/ground. If it's too soon to plant outdoors, transplant the seedlings into individul pots until you can get them into your garden.
Do you have a gardening tip or secret to share?