The satisfaction of transforming nothing but a handful of seeds into spectacular homegrown vegetables is something that can only be truly understood by those that have actually experienced it. Suffice to say, it’s a whole different ballgame that heading out to the supermarket and picking up a bunch of veggies – and it’s a difference that can be truly life changing.
Of course there are challenges to face along the way and perhaps the biggest of all is that of giving your seeds the strongest possible start. The beauty of indoor gardening is of course that you really don’t have to pay any attention whatsoever to the seasons as you get to take full control of all growing conditions. So no matter what time of year you decide to finally try your hand at growing your own, here is a quick look at eight essential tips for giving your seeds the strongest possible start:
1 - Pick The Right Plants
First and foremost, be thoughtful when it comes to your choice of plants. There are certain plants that are absolute dreams when it comes to home germination – others can be more of a nightmare. In the case of the former, look for things like tomatoes, peppers, onions, salad leaves, chives, broccoli and herbs.
2 – Containers
Don’t get too bogged down with the vast array of containers on the market, as in truth pretty much any plastic, metal or wooden container with the depth of at least 3 inches will be perfect for your seeds. Just be sure to punch a few holes in the bottom if this hasn’t already been done to allow for drainage.
3 – Breathing Room
When sowing the seeds, be sure to leave a good 2 inches between each of the seeds in order to give it sufficient room to grow. If when the seedlings begin to show through any of them are touching, be sure to transplant as many as necessary to different pots as overcrowding can be fatal.
4 – Quality Dirt
You’ll find a thousand and one ‘recipes’ online creating weird and wonderful DIY compost blends, but to be honest it’s far easier and more effective to simply invest in a bag of supreme-quality seed starter mix from a known brand. There’s really no sense in picking up a variety of ingredients and trying to achieve the perfect balance when and where the experts are happy to do it on your behalf and for generously cheap prices.
5 – Digging Deep?
In terms of determining exactly how deep to sow your seeds, a general rule of thumb is to place the seeds on top of the growing medium and then cover them with more of the stuff to a depth about three times that of the seeds.
6 – Warm, Wet and Well-Lit
The optimum temperature for seed germination in most instances is around 70° F. Extreme temperatures and changes in temperature are to be avoided at all costs, while plenty of moisture should be provided and retained throughout the germination process. And of course, the very moment the sprouts begin to show through, remove all covers and move the containers to a well-lit area.
7 – Cooling Off
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that seedlings require the same level of heat as they did in their prior seed forms. To keep things progressing with strength, it’s important to reduce ambient heat levels by withdrawing any additional heat sources used during germination and keeping the seedlings away from radiators etc.
8 – Tough Love
Last but not least, one of the oldest and most effective tricks in the book when it comes to avoiding spindly seedlings and nurturing strong plant growth is that of giving the seedlings a gentle stroll or ruffle a couple of times every day. Either with your fingers or by placing the seedlings close to an oscillating fan, a little bit of tough love encourages the seedlings to develop into stronger, sturdier and more fruitful plants in general.