Jumpstart Your Garden: Your Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

The thought of starting seedlings indoors can be intimidating. It’s not as difficult as it might seem. We have a series of articles to help you get started and grow from seed with confidence. You’ll be surprised at how successful you can be!

Why start seedling indoors?

There are many reasons why you might start your seedlings indoors. You might do it because you want to get a jump on the growing season. Starting your own seeds also gives you many more options for which varieties you can grow, as nurseries typically offer only a limited selection of seedlings varieties. Also, some seeds can be a bit finicky, and starting them indoors allows you to control the environment to achieve the best germination. Finally, starting your own seedlings can save costs. We explore those reasons more in this article.

planting seeds indoors with grow lights

What Vegetables Can I Start Indoors?

Many varieties are well-suited to starting indoors. Some popular choices to start indoors are:

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants

These nightshades need warm germination temperatures and have a longer growing season. Getting started inside gives a home gardener a better chance at success with these plants. Cool-season crops do well started indoors and transplanted out even before the last frost, which will lead to a nice springtime harvest.

These would include vegetables such as:

  • Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach 
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale

Which Seeds Should Be Sown Outdoors?

There are a few varieties that do not transplant well and do better when sown directly outdoors. For example, some root vegetables like carrots dislike having their taproot disturbed and it is difficult to transplant them without doing so. A little research will go a long way, and of course, our seed packets will help you decide!

planting seeds

What equipment is required to start seedlings indoors?

You’ll need some equipment and perhaps a few tools, most of which you probably already have around the house. Of course, there are fancy grow setups that you could purchase, including greenhouses and expensive light systems, but this job can be done quite nicely with just a few basics.

The single most important factor is providing sufficient light. Light from a south-facing window is rarely enough and often leads to tall-strung-out seedlings that do not thrive. But adding supplemental light does not require expensive specialized lights. Go here to read a description of our preferred light setup which uses a few shop lights.

Before going into the ground – harden off your seedlings!

Once your seedlings are well-established, they’ll need to be hardened off before they go in the ground. This process introduces your plants to the conditions of the garden gradually, so they aren’t shocked by the changes. Direct sunlight, wind, and soil conditions are very different outside. Take the time to harden your plants off properly to help them make the transition successfully.

After you’ve hardened off your seedlings, they’ll be ready for their home outside. Transplanting your new plants into the garden is mostly a matter of timing and placement. Growing your plants from seed to harvest is extremely satisfying. You’ll love seeing your seeds transplanted and thriving in the garden.

The process of starting seeds indoors is fairly straightforward. We’ve got an easy “getting started” article to give you a general overview of what to expect. It should help you to plan ahead and to pick out an appropriate corner of your house to home your seedlings as they start their journey.

Written by Teresa Chandler