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Thinking about starting your own seeds indoors this year? Let’s talk about the 6 essential supplies you need to start seeds indoors. I get a lot of questions about what is needed to start seeds indoors. If you have never tried to grow your vegetables or flowers from seeds it can be a little intimidating. It is easy to go to the store and buy a seedling to put in your garden in spring, but it is also easy to start your own seeds if you set yourself up for success from the very beginning.
Supplies You Need To Start Seeds Indoors
There really are only 6 essential supplies that you need to be successful:
- seed starting soil
- correct temperature
See those are not too difficult to get ahold of, so it is easy to get started.
Containers are an essential one of the supplies you need to start seeds indoors. Your container can help you control the environment of the germinating seeds. Don’t jump directly to a large pot, it is much easier to control the moisture and temperature of the soil in a smaller container to ensure your seeds have what they need to grow. There are so many types of containers that can be used to start seeds indoors. You can make your own seed containers with items you already have in your home or you can buy containers from the store. Make sure your containers can hold at least 2 inches of soil to get your seeds started. Your container should also have some kind of drainage hole in the bottom to the soil is not holding too much moisture.
Make Your Own Seed Starting Pots
You can make your own pots from items you already have in your home. I like to up-cycle items I usually recycle and make them into pots. Some items I usually put aside to use later include newspapers, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, take out containers, egg cartons and the clam shell containers from the grocery store that usually contain muffins. I have another post called 3 Easy DIY Seed Starting Containers if you want more information on how to create pots out of toilet paper rolls, take out containers, and egg cartons. Really the ideas are endless of what you can use as a container to start seeds.
Buy Pots from the Store
There is a huge selection of pots for starting seeds that you can easily buy from the store. You can buy individual peat pots, seed starting trays, nursery pots and you can also plant in paper/plastic cups. Really the choices are endless, just make sure the item you are using has a drainage hole even if you need to add one.
If you use biodegradable peat pots I recommend you do NOT plant your seedlings in the ground with the pot still around the roots. I have tried this several times to test it and I always have root bound vegetables because the pot does not break down fast enough for how fast the plant grows outside. There have been several times when I pull out a plant at the end of the season and the peat pot is still intact around the roots of the plant. I would just ensure that you remove the plants from the peat pot before transplanting them in the ground.
Seed Starting Soil
Another one of the supplies needed to start seeds indoors is seed starting soil. A seed starting soil mix is a mixture of soil that is usually lighter and made of finer particles. This mix will help give the seeds the best chance at germinating and growing healthy roots. Most stores sell specific soil for seed starting. Some types of seed starting mix I have used in the past are:
These are great to help promote great root growth for your seedlings. As your seedlings get larger and get their first set of true leaves you will need to plant them in a larger container. This is when you can switch to using potting soil that contains additional nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. This is also when you would begin fertilizing your plants.
What I love about starting my own seeds every year is the huge variety of seeds to choose from. When you are planting transplants you are limited to what you can purchase from the store. Stores typically carry items that are known varieties that appeal to a large number of growers. If you want to pick something really unique starting your seeds on your own is the way to go. I love to try a new variety of seeds every year. This year I am trying the Leutschauer Paprika Peppers from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Some of the locations I typically buy my seeds from are:
Seeds do not need light to germinate initially but once your seeds have popped through the surface of the soil the light is very important. Seedlings typically need 14-16 hours of light a day. If you have a very sunny south facing window you can put your seedlings there but you may not get enough hours of light depending on where you live. Since I start so many seedlings I don’t have enough windows to give them all the best shot of being successful. I have a system setup in my basement that is using grow lights to help my seedlings get the light that they need to thrive. I purchased my LED grow lights from Amazon. You can also purchase fluorescent shop lights from your local hardware store and those work as well.
At any point in the growing process, if your plants begin to look leggy or appear to be straining towards the light lower your lights so they are closer to your seedlings. This is a common mistake that new gardeners make is not having the lights close enough to their seedlings.
Each seed variety has an ideal germination soil temperature. Keeping your soil around the correct temperature for seed germination is extremely important to ensure success. Seeds will germinate in minimum soil temperatures but it will likely take longer for them to grow. Make sure to place your germinating seeds in a warm location. Pepper plants especially love really warm soil. This year I am going to be placing my peppers on a heat mat to help with their germination. A heat mat helps to keep soil temperatures from 68 degrees to 86 degrees. This allows for really successful germination of your seeds.
It is important to ensure that you are keeping your soil consistently moist for the first part of seed germination. I like to use containers that have a plastic lid on them like the clam shell containers from the store or if you buy seed containers from the store they typically come with a clear plastic lid/dome. This allows you to control water evaporation and creates a green house effect for the growing seeds. Once the seeds have sprouted you can remove the lid. Make sure to check your seedlings daily to check their soil moisture. You don’t want them too wet because that can cause mold issues but you don’t want them to dry out either. Consistent moisture through the plants growth will help you to be successful with your plants.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
These 6 essential items are not too intimidating to get you started. They are easily acquired or are items you already have on hand. I love starting my seedlings every year and love to check on them when they are growing. It is sometimes hard not to check on them several times a day. Starting seeds indoors allows you to grow a really wide variety of items that you can’t find at the typical store. Try growing something new in your garden this year. How about some Ground Cherries or Paprika Peppers? I enjoy growing them in my garden and hope you do too.