Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How To Start Your Veggie Seeds Indoors

This is a rerun JUST because I realized I needed to start my tomatoes in the next few weeks. So if you're starting to think about your garden yet...and you should be....then let's get started soon!

Oooh I love spring. Spring to a Washingtonian means respite from the gray, wet, gloomy winter and a little bit of sunshine to glow off our pasty white skin. It also means fresh laundry on the clothesline and sprouting seeds for my garden.

I've been working on starting my seeds over the past few weeks and just in case you want to get your garden going, I though I'd post how we do it.

First of all, starting your seeds indoors about four weeks before you plant them in your garden is a good way to save money. Starting from seed means not only having control over the soil that your plants start growing in (think organic versus chemical fertilizers) but it is also much cheaper because nursery grown starts are marked up at least 200% more than the cost of your seed and potting soil.

I start my seeds indoors so they are well established and hearty before they are moved outside in the elements. There are some seeds I start directly in the ground like carrots but for the most part I give my veggies a healthy start in my nice climate controlled house.

First I find a nice sunny window for my plants to sit by. I happen to have a giant unfinished window seat in my house that I use for this but any window ledge or table placed in front of a window that gets several hours of daylight is a good place to use.

I make my seedling pots with black and white print newspaper not only because it's free but because when planting time comes I can just plop the whole thing into the hole. The newsprint will decompose and enrich my soil in the process. You can find out how to make the pots HERE. Then I fill the pots with potting soil and plant my seed to the depth it says on the packet.

Then I use clear plastic bins to set the plants in and give them a good watering. The bins not only protects the surface of my window seat but it also lets the light in better than a colored bin and serves as a bit of a greenhouse as the sun heats it up. The deeper walls protect the tall plants from being knocked over by kids, flying pillows from pillow fights or stray balls that get bounced in the house when I'm not looking.

I label the bins with the name of the plant as well as the date that I started the plants. This helps me to keep track of which plants I have in each bin and when it's time for them to go outside. Then I lightly water them every other day and watch them grow. It usually takes about 6 days for them to poke through and by four weeks you'll have a mini-jungle in your window, ready to be transplanted outside.

I'm no expert on gardening. I've only been doing it for a handful of years. I started with two or three plants the first year and each year I add a new plant. That seemed doable to me as a beginner and I've just kept that tradition up over the years. This year we have green beans, peas, squash, pickling cucumbers, a variety of lettuce and tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins, broccoli, and our new seed.....watermelon.

I can't wait to sink my teeth into my own low-cost produce and put my savings towards other things like meat and dairy products.


More Love, Less Debt said...

Thank you for this post. I am a newbie with gardening. (Like we just planted indoors and don't have a "garden" area done yet outside. Working on that Saturday. I figure if I am going to eat my favs I might as well try to make my own. Thanks for the tips. I love the paper idea. Going to do that next time FOR SURE! Major $ saver.

Sarah said...

THis is our first year of planting seeds indoors, and we are saving LOTS of money! I planted some flowers too and on those, I'd say we are saving more then 200%!

I love watching them grow daily, and it is quite relaxing taking care of them!

More Jingle in my Jeans said...

I know how you feel about the Washington weather! It is so nice to really be having spring now, I cant wait to plant my seedlings. Thanks for the link for the newspaper pots.

Emily said...

I'm so proud of you! You have the coolest ideas.

The Mangerchine's said...

Great tip, thanks! I've been getting inspired to give gardening a try lately, and this info will be quite helpful!


jacqueline said...

I love that you use the newspaper pots. Another great thing is that if you let the newspaper hang out of the hole when you plant it protects against cutworms. For people who don't have a nice big window you can use the squiggly bulbs in a desk lamp so your little seedlings don't "stretch" and become weak. I love spring!

Jordon said...

Thanks so much for the post! I have really been wanting to try this! I'm excited to do this!

Jen said...

I love the newspaper as pot idea well--thanks for the great idea! Jen

searcher said...

I just started my garden seeds this week! I wish I would have read this post before I bought those flats! I have been saving my newspapers to use as landscape fabric and have three stacks of papers! I could have used some for pots as well!

Halfmoon Girl said...

I was just thinking yesterday about starting seeds soon. I don't usually plant most things till May long weekend. I love the newspaper pot idea!

Rhonda Parker said...

Thank you so much for this post! I would have never ever thought about using newspapers for pots - it's so perfect (and FREE!). I don't have a sunny spot either, so I've been using a regular lamp right above my seeds, and it seems to be working well. Your whole concept with the newspaper pots and the translucent plastic bins is just perfect! :) Thanks again, and Happy Good Friday.

Kathryn said...

Thank you for the great information! Do you have a suggestion as to where to get good seeds for a good price? Last year I got some at Target that didn't ever really grow...the year before they were good. Just hoping! Thank you!