How to Start Spring Garden Seeds Inside
Home gardeners excited about getting started on plantings for the upcoming season might be tempted to start spring garden seeds as soon as temperatures begin to warm up. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, air and soil temperatures in early spring might not be as warm as they need to be for plants to be successful. Plus, there may still be winter storms around the corner, even if you’ve technically entered the spring season. Luckily, there are ways to start seeds early without exposing them to too-cold temperatures.
Starting garden plants inside is one way to get your garden started early, and it’s something even novice gardeners can manage! With the help of Woodie — an expert horticulturalist who has spent his life in the nursery growing beautiful plants — anyone can learn how to start seeds inside. Woodie works for Garden Goods Direct providing his expertise to gardeners like you and helping to establish the company as America’s online garden center. He wants to make a difference by encouraging you to add some green to your own space, and starting your garden inside is one way to do that!
There are benefits to starting seeds inside. You’ll save money since seeds are less expensive than started plants. You will also find more options. With seeds, there’s a wider variety of colors and sizes to choose from. Woodie recommends ordering seeds online, which will give you access to the widest variety of options. If you’re looking for something specific, new or just something out of the ordinary, looking online is an excellent option.
Shopping online with Garden Goods Direct will give you access to a wide variety of Woodie-approved premium plants, and save you the time of having to walk around a nursery trying to figure out the right options. When you shop with Woodie, you have access to his extensive knowledge about plants. If you have any questions, you can drop him a line — he’s eager to help make sure you get the right products for your garden!
When Should You Start Your Seeds?
Certain plants, especially those that evolved in warmer climates like Central America, need warmer soil and more sun to get started. Some examples are peppers, tomatoes, beans and squash. If you try to start plants outdoors too early in a cooler climate, they are not likely to be successful. They may take so long to grow that the first frost would kill them before you were able to harvest any ripe vegetables.
If you want to start garden plants inside, but aren’t sure where to begin, start small and keep it simple! Begin with a couple of dozen plants in a few different varieties. When determining which seeds to start indoors, start with the information provided on your seed packets — it’s there to guide you.
Follow these steps for organizing your seeds in preparation for starting plants indoors.
Separate the packets into two piles: those that will be started outdoors in the garden, and those that will be started indoors. If you’re not sure, ask a gardening-savvy neighbor or friend who is familiar with the local climate. Don’t hesitate to consult Woodie with any of your questions on seed starting as well! As a general rule, most vegetables and annuals can be started directly outdoors, while you’ll need to start most perennials indoors. However, certain long-season vegetables and summer-blooming annuals will be better off starting indoors.
Once you know which seeds you’ll need to start indoors, you will need to determine the last frost date where you live. Once you have that date, count back in one-week increments. For example, if your last frost date is April 26, “Week 6” would be the week of March 15, “Week 8” would be the week of March 1, etc.
Start separating the indoor seed packets based on the number of weeks ahead of the last frost date when you should start them. Each packet should give a range of time for sowing seeds, such as, “Start 6 to 8 weeks before last frost date.” Write the corresponding week on each seed packet, and separate them by week.
Some packets will only indicate the range of time it takes for seeds to germinate. If that’s the case, take that number and add six weeks. If you don’t even have that information, Woodie suggests starting the seeds about six weeks prior to when you plan to transplant them outdoors.
One of Woodie’s recommended tricks is to keep a record of all of your gardening activities, such as when you start seeds each year. It can be tricky to remember year to year, especially since you need to start different varieties at different times. Your records can serve as a guide during future years. Should you decide to expand your garden as years go on, having those records could be crucial to proper planning.
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to your schedule. If you are starting your seeds in a cooler environment, such as a basement, consider moving up your schedule by one or two weeks. Plants will grow more slowly if air and soil temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, you will want to move your schedule back one or two weeks if you plan to start seeds in an environment warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you start too early, plants may grow too large inside, and become stressed when it’s time to transplant. On the other hand, if you start too late, plants may not have time to mature before you’re ready to transplant. You may find a packet has more seeds than you need. Feel free to save them for next season, or plant them all and give some away or trade seedlings with friends. Try not to buy more seeds than you can use in a few years.
If you choose to start your spring garden seeds inside, by the time temperatures warm up, you will already have seedlings that are ready to be transplanted outdoors. You will also be able to harvest earlier, and have a greater yield than if you had started seeds directly in the garden.
Whether you are new to gardening, or just new to starting seeds inside, read on for Woodie’s seed starting tips for beginners and experienced gardeners alike.