Growing your own food from seed is so rewarding. You control the process from beginning to end and you can grow unusual varieties of your favorite foods. Plus, it’s easy and gives you a jumpstart on spring.
Encourage healthy growth and strong seedlings with these tricks.
4 Tricks for Sprouting Seeds Indoors
While some seeds sprout when planted directly in the soil, most need a bit of help to get started. Roughly six weeks before the average date of the last frost in your area, simply soak seeds in warm water for 2-4 hours to soften.
Large seeds, such as beans, like to be soaked overnight. Read the instruction on the seed packet to ensure the optimal conditions for your seeds.
Warm temperatures help speed up the growing process, especially when the warmth starts at the roots. You can store seedlings on top of the refrigerator or in another warm place. For more consistent root temperature, however, a better option is to use a special heating mat. When using additional heat, check moisture daily since the soil may dry out more quickly.
After true leaves develop, seeds benefit from an extra boost of fertilizer. A proper seed-starting mix should contain a small amount of nutrients, however, once the true leaves emerge, the plant begins using light to make food. At this time, they will benefit from a weekly feeding of a half-strength liquid fertilizer to grow tall and strong.
Thinning is the process of removing weaker seedlings to allow more room for the stronger ones. This creates healthier plants that produce more. As seedlings grow and you see crowding beginning to happen, gradually thin plants to 4 inches apart by gently pulling out the smallest ones with your hands.
Tip: If you’ve never tried germinating your own seeds before, some easy seeds to start with are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, and both winter and summer squash.