Even though winter is officially over, spring can still seem like it’s quite a ways away when the weather is still cold and when there are still piles of snow strewn about the landscape. It’s still going to be a bit before you’re able to spend some time outside tending to your gardens. That being said, you can still get a head start on some of your planting while it’s still winter by starting some seeds in pots inside your home!

Starting your seeds indoors gets you a head start on the growing season, which can be especially beneficial in regions that have shorter growing seasons as it is. Plus, it can also be cheaper, as purchasing packs of seeds will cost you less than buying young seedlings from a plant nursery. Some of the most common plants started indoors in pots include tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, lettuce, eggplant, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Before you start your seeds, understand that not all of the seeds are going to germinate, and that some plants might not make it. Make sure you have an area that gets plenty of sunlight in your home, otherwise you may need to invest in a grow light. Use clean containers, and make sure to label them so you don’t forget what you planted. Finally, follow the instructions on your seed packets with regard to when you start your seeds so you don’t accidentally start them too early or too late.

Here are the steps you should follow when starting seeds indoors:

  • Potting mix: The first step is to fill your clean containers with a potting mix that has been specially designed for seedlings. A good mix includes soilless peat moss with equal parts perlite and vermiculate, which allows the soil to hold enough water while still offering some oxygen flow. Regular potting soil might not allow for proper rooting.
  • Follow instructions: Every seed packet will come with instructions about how you should plant the seeds. Some should be gently pressed down into the mixture, others might need to be buried at a certain depth. Always plant the largest seeds first.
  • Cover: Cover the containers you use with plastic so they don’t dry out. You can create some ventilation by poking some holes in the plastic.
  • Watering: You should be very careful with how you water freshly started seeds—you don’t want to overwater, or you’ll flood out the seeds. You might try using a baster or syringe at first to dispense water slowly but effectively without disrupting the soil.
  • Removing plastic: You can remove the plastic from the container after you see seedlings starting to appear. At this point, you should place the containers in an area that gets frequent bright light, or under a grow lamp.
  • Transferring: Once the seedlings start growing a second pair of leaves, you should prepare to transfer them to a new pot filled with potting mix and compost. Keep the seedlings out of the direct light for several days after the transfer while they establish themselves in their new homes, then place them back in the light and continue your regular routine.

Contact Soil Advocates at admin@soiladvocates.ca or 289-221-0164 for more tips about starting your seeds indoors this year.

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