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Next Article: Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors Under Lights

How to Start Your Vegetable Seeds Indoors


Date Posted: April 3, 2017

Seeds of the Month Club by Mike the Gardener How to Start Your Vegetable Seeds Indoors
photo credit: Mike the Gardener

In my last blog post I talked about my indoor grow light set up. I also did an in depth video on it as well. You can see that here Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors Under Lights. In this post I wanted to go in depth on the trays, soil, watering and seeds themselves which would complete everything you need to get your indoor vegetable seed starting going.

I am not going to rehash the details of what I talk about in the video, but to get you started, you will notice that when the video starts, there is already soil in the plastic tray inserts. This is the same organic potting soil that I talk about later in the video, when I cover the seeds.

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Vegetable Seed Starting Supplies

There are countless ways you can start your vegetable seeds indoors and just as many types of supplies and material. I outline the way I do it, but it is by no means the be-all-end-all. In fact, I use a few different starting methods, with the one rule of thumb. The larger the seed the larger the pot I start it in.

Size of the Vegetable Seed Determines Where I Start Them

For example, when starting vegetable seeds the size of lettuce, tomato, various herbs, up through beets and peas, I like to use the plastic tray inserts as I show in the video. When starting larger vegetable seeds, such as pumpkin and various squash, I’ll move up to two inch to four inch cowpots. I show the four inch cowpots in the video as well. I have seen people use expanding peat pellets up through and including red solo cups to start their seeds in. Choose whatever is easier for you. Just get your vegetable seeds started.

The Initial Watering of the Newly Started Vegetable Seeds

One thing I have learned over time is top down watering on newly planted vegetable seeds does not work out well for me. In fact, it creates quite a mess. Top down watering is not wrong, nor will it make it harder to start vegetable seeds, I just find that bottom up is less messy. I’ll touch more on that later. For my initial watering I like to mix a tablespoon of an organic seaweed fertilizer and a gallon of warm tap water. This will give my young seedlings some extra nutrients for a better start.

#257: Mike Shows You What You Need to Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors


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Planting Your Vegetable Seeds

Everybody has a different way of doing this step. Some like to poke a hole in the soil, then place the vegetable seed in the hole, while others use the method that I show in the video. Either way works fine. The end result is the same. What I show in the video is filling each plastic tray insert with the soil and laying the seeds on top, then pushing the seed every so slightly into the soil. After all of the seeds have been pushed in, I layer a coat of soil on top of the seeds to cover them. I try to keep the vegetable seeds as close to the top of the soil as possible so the roots will have plenty of room to grow and expand.

Watering Your Newly Planted Vegetable Seeds

The top down watering method means you plant your seeds then water over top of them. While this isn’t wrong, or destructive to starting your vegetables, I find that it is messier (who knows maybe it’s just me), and the weight of the water coming down, pushes the soil too much, thus compacting it.

What I like to do, and I show this is in the video, is add the water to my seed starting tray, then put the plastic tray inserts, filled with the soil and vegetable seeds, on top of the water. Put in just enough water so that the plastic tray inserts float just a little bit. Because the soil is so dry it will naturally absorb the water from underneath. There will be some compression of the soil but not as much as you would have it you were watering from the top down.

Cover Your Vegetable Seed Trays with a Clear Plastic Dome

The final step prior to putting your vegetable seed trays underneath your grow lights is to place a clear plastic dome on top. Sometimes referred to as a humidity dome, this keeps the air in which creates a constant, warm growing temperature for your vegetable seeds. This helps speed up germination by keeping the soil warm. For warmer weather plants, such as peppers and eggplant, you’ll need a heat mat if where you are starting your vegetable seeds is a bit cooler.

Your vegetable seed trays are now ready to start growing. Just give them plenty of light and you will have all kinds of plants growing in your indoor seed starting set up.

Happy gardening!


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Mike the gardener

About the Author

Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


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