Tips and Tricks for Starting Leafy Greens Indoors

Leafy greens

Green leafy vegetables are some of the healthiest vegetables to eat and add so much flavor and nutrition to salads, stir-fries, pasta dishes, and more. Luckily, they’re easy to get started indoors.

Closeup of leafy green seedlings

There are many reasons to start leafy greens inside. It’s an ideal plan for succession plantings, as the plant has more opportunity for growth -- especially in warmer weather which can cause early bolting. Transplanting gives the gardener more time before the soil warms up in the springtime. Some plants grow well inside year-round, too. Or, you might want to start your seeds indoors for transplanting into the garden once the soil warms up. 

How to Start Leafy Greens Indoors

These tips and tricks will get you on your way to successfully starting your seeds without much fuss or worry. 

  • Make sure you’ve got the right equipment. Containers, trays, grow lights -- all of the basics are covered in our article on starting seedlings indoors
  • Pay attention to germination temperatures. Since you’re starting these seeds indoors, you have a bit more control over the soil temperature than you would in the garden. Make sure you don’t start your lettuce inside a shed that gets over 80°, for example. 
  • Start with a fertile growing medium in a shallow, well-draining container. Fast growth means sweeter, tender leaves. A quality potting mix works well. Do not use garden soil, as it is too compact and doesn’t drain as well. 
  • Provide plenty of bright light. Your seedlings need light to grow. If you don’t have a very bright south-facing window, you probably want to provide some artificial light to help. Make sure the pots don’t get close enough to the light to get hot. 
  • Keep seeds and seedlings moist but not saturated. This helps you to avoid the frustration of your seeds damping off
  • Harden off plants before transplanting outdoors. There’s nothing so frustrating as nurturing your seeds into seedlings only to lose them because you rushed moving outdoors. Learn more about hardening off here.

And remember, leafy greens are one of the best choices for indoor gardeners. If you wanted to, you could start your leafy greens indoors and keep them there. Options that thrive in cooler conditions like leaf lettuce, kale, and arugula just need plenty of light and the right growing conditions. Since these salad greens grow quickly in small spaces, you can have fresh flavor year-round without even stepping foot outside your house!

Green leafy vegetables are beginner-friendly and can be very rewarding since they grow fairly quickly. If you have been wanting to garden but haven’t because you don’t have space or experience, try salad greens! As you can see, it only takes a little bit of planning, space, and effort to get started.

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