Organic Gardening; How to Start Seeds Indoors

How to start seeds indoors

This is the third year in a row that I’m starting our garden indoors. In the past, I purchased transplants from local greenhouses or home stores. It later occurred to me that unless I started the seeds myself, there was no way to know if the transplants were genetically modified, or already treated with various chemicals. I began trialing ways to start our garden indoors and have come up with a formula for success. I know that from start to finish, our garden is organic and 100% safe and healthy for my family.

Starting seeds indoors requires a variety of conditions and supplies. You’ll need a growing medium (possibly dirt), light, heat, seeds and good air circulation. Indoor conditions should promote seed germination and growth and avoid stale air that can cause damping off and fungal growth on your plants. This is created by a balance of temperature, water and air circulation that many gardeners have worked hard to master, and to some has come naturally.

What I’m growing

This year I’m planting Burpee hybrids, heirlooms and organic seeds. A hybrid is created by pollinating one fantastic plant with pollen from another fantastic plant, to grown an amazing plant from the seeds that makes. This is a great choice for gardeners because they are NOT genetically modified. I want nothing to do with food that has had it’s genes altered in a lab (or other strange unnatural things). Heirlooms are seeds from plants that have been grown over a long period of time, maybe something my Grandparents would have grown. Organic seeds are certified and grown and produced under strict standards ensuring that they come from organic plants as well. These are ideal and as they increase in popularity there will be more choices for home gardeners like myself.

Choosing the right soil

Over the past years I have tried various soil mediums. I’ve tried perlite, vermiculite, baked outside soil, burpee pellets, jiffy pellets, potting soil, organic potting soil, and scary miracle grow ‘dirt.’ The best growing medium I have found is Jiffy Pellets. No growing medium is perfect, and I am not crazy about the ecological disruption that comes from harvesting peat…so in the future I’m hoping to perfect baking outdoor soil.
Jiffy pellets come as dry discs that require water to putt up in preparation for seed planting. These are greenhouses (which can be used year after year) with replacement pellets that hold 72 plugs each. It’s recommended that water be added slowly to allow even rise in each pellet. I’m adding warm water here and was able to plant our seeds about 30 min. after hydrating the pellets.

Don’t forget to label your seeds
     Labeling plants is very important. It’s easy to quickly forget which seeds have been planted where. This year I’m using a seed chart and have labeled the trays 1, 2, and 3.  I’m grouping tomato plants, cucumbers, and other like vegetables together. Cucumbers and Zucchini tend to be a larger seedling, and tomato and eggplant transplants are generally smaller. The size of the seed is a good indicator letting you know what size seedling you can expect from each seed. Big seed = big seedling, little seed = little seedling (generally speaking).
After the seeds re planted

      I plant each seed into the hole provided in each pellet, or I make it bigger with the back of a spoon. After the whole tray is planted I cover the seeds back over with dirt. I have covered each pellet after planting before, but noticed that I often lost my place or double-planted some of the pellets. The trays are then covered with the plastic lid provided. Although this cover makes a great little greenhouse, it does prevent air circulation and if left on too long can cause fungal growth. I prefer the indoor greenhouse below with a small fan to circulate air.

This year I am very excited to add this 3-tier greenhouse to our collection. I have a ceiling fan going nearby and plants are getting lots of natural sunshine from a bay window. The plastic gets pulled off of the stand during the day to increase air circulation and pellets are checked for hydration. There is also a little fan going inside.
Window light is great, but does cause the seedlings to grow towards the light. I rotate the trays daily to ensure seedlings grow straight. Next year I’m thinking about adding some grow lights above the seedlings in this setup to encourage them to grow up and not over. However, finding the right grow light will be a whole separate venture.

Some of our seeds sprouted in less then one week! These seedlings are Burpee cucumber variety salad slicers. We really enjoyed growing them in the past. The skin is nice and soft, making peeling unnecessary and my kids enjoy eating them straight from the garden!

Starting seeds indoors keeps things organic
These plants have not been treated with any chemicals and I purchased organic seeds. Simply using air flow, indoor germination and a good growing medium will keep these in tip top shape. In a few weeks I’ll post back about seedling care and hopefully I can begin hardening these outdoors to get ready for the big garden! Check back with me on social media, I’m posting garden progress and am happy to answer any questions or talk garden!! Happy growing!!

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