How to start seeds indoors

Starting crops from seed is a satisfying and economical way to grow your own plants, flowers, and veggies. Here's our getting-started guide

Step 2: how to plant seeds

If you are starting heat-loving plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, squashes, or melons), set the containers on a water heater or use a heating mat to keep the soil between 75°F/24°C and 90°F/32°C. (Most cool-season vegetables will germinate at room temperature.)

When the seeds germinate, move the pots into an area with bright light and temperatures between 60°F/16°C and 75°F/24°C.

2. When the seedlings develop their second set of true leaves, it’s time to transplant them to individual pots, such as 3- or 4-inch plastic pots. Fill the new containers with potting mix, moisten the mix, and let it drain.

To remove the seedlings from their original pots, squeeze each pot’s sides, and turn it upside down, keeping one hand around the soil ball. With both hands, carefully pull the soil ball apart, and set it down on a flat surface.

3. Separate the fragile rootballs of the seedlings from one another with a toothpick or skewer, or tease them apart with your fingers.

4. Poke a hole in the new container’s potting mix. Carefully lift each seedling and its rootball, keeping your fingers under it for support. Place the seedling in its new container, and firm the mix around it. Water immediately, and then set the pots in bright light (but keep them out of direct sunlight for a few days). Feed the seedlings weekly with a fertilizer sold for starting seeds or with a liquid type diluted to half-strength.

Next: give them light and warmth

 

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  • Step 2: how to plant seeds

    Separate seedlings

    To remove the seedlings from their original pots, squeeze each pot’s sides, and turn it upside down, keeping one hand around the soil ball. With both hands, carefully pull the soil ball apart, and set it down on a flat surface.

  • Step 4: how to plant seeds

    Support the tiny plant from below

    Carefully lift each seedling and its rootball, keeping your fingers under it for support. Place the seedling in its new container, and firm the mix around it.

  • Best crops for pots

    The best crops for pots

    You can grow most standard-sized crops in containers. Here's a guide to the best

  • How to plant vegetables

    Veggies 101: How to start your garden

    Here's how to get started growing your own fresh, delicious food in garden beds or pots

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