This year I’m doing something new. Because I am super conscious of waste, plastic use, and wasteful spending in general, I decided not to use the starter kits from the garden center. I’m using recycled materials like egg cartons and cardboard. I also decided to buy a special compost mix from my Amish farmer to add to my garden for nourishment. Haven’t you ever wondered about what’s in that commercial compost mix? Me too. I’m not using it. I totally trust my Amish farmer and his goat compost mix. Yippee! Making your own compost is best because you know exactly what’s in it. However, not all of us are able to compost due to space or HOA restrictions. I have my compost hidden so my HOA has no idea it exists. However, I had an issue with poison ivy infesting my pile. There is conflicting data about whether poison ivy can compost without infecting the rest of the garden. I am not taking the chance. Instead, I am buying it from my trustworthy farmer.
Materials Needed to Start Your Seeds Indoors
- Gloves (optional)
- Eggshells and egg cartons OR saved cardboard tubes from paper towel or toilet paper rolls.
- Compost and/or starter seed mix
- Plastic wrap or glass to cover your seeds and create a greenhouse effect
- Filtered water
- Plenty of sunlight (10-12 hours a day – a window in a room with southern exposure is ideal) or use a special florescent light.
- Heating pad (optional, but very effective to get the most seeds to germinate)
How to Start Your Seeds Indoors
1) Use a pin to poke a hole in the bottom of the eggs shells.
2) Fill shell with moistened seed starter mix and a little compost (if you have it).
3) Poke a hole in the soil and place two or three seeds, then cover seeds with soil.
4) Label the seed that you put into the egg along with the date. (This is a VERY important step!!)
5) Cover with plastic wrap or glass and leave covered until the sprouts start to touch the glass/plastic.
6) Only remove plastic after most of the seeds have sprouted. Check moisture but do not over water. Soil mix should be moist to the touch. I usually mist my sprouts once or twice a week and they do just fine. They may dry out quickly if you have the plants next to a heat source. Keep an eye out for this.
7) Over the next few weeks I will do a few more trays of seed so that I can have successive plantings to keep certain crops, like beans, from disappearing in early summer. I like to have a full summer of harvesting veggies that only yield for a short time.
Certain Seeds Do Not Do Well When Started Indoors
These veggies are best planted in the soil and not started indoors:
Dill – start in spring, just before last frost
Spinach – starts in early spring; it grows well in cooler temperatures
Kale- starts in early spring; it grows well in cooler temperatures
Chard -starts in early spring; it grows well in cooler temperatures
Carrots – starts in early spring; it grows well in cooler temperatures
Beans – start when ground temperature is a consistent 50 degrees or more. Frost will kill.
There might be others (like potatoes and other root veggies), but the ones above are the types that I have found to be ornery with an indoor start. One of the biggest drawbacks to starting seeds indoors is the amount of space that it takes on my table. From March through May my morning room is loaded with seedlings and starter stuff. Honestly, I hate looking at the clutter, but I find the two months of inconvenience well worth it when I am able to harvest a month earlier than most people in the area. It’s awesome that I can get tomatoes as early as the middle of July!