Starting seedlings indoors: Part one

So why would I grow my own seedlings?

  • It’s cheaper. For ~$10, you can get a package of seeds and a bag of soil. The average package of tomato seeds contains ~50 seeds. If 80% of them germinate, that means each plant will cost you 25 cents. And if you save your own seeds each year, your plants will be much cheaper!
  • You can try more varieties of plants than what are usually available in greenhouses, such as purple peppers or black tomatoes.
  • You can grow plants for your schedule. You don’t have to scramble to find a greenhouse that has good-looking plants when you are ready to move your plants outside.
  • It’s exciting to watch your plants take root!

Which plants do I start inside, and when?

The seed package should tell you if you need to start the seeds indoors. If it doesn’t, you can look online to see what growers in your area recommend.

In eastern Ontario, peppers are started 8-10 weeks before the last frost
If you count backwards from the average last frost date for your region, you can get an idea of when to plant your seeds:…

What do I need?

  • Seeds
  • Sterile soil, preferably formulated for seedlings and sprouts
  • A warm, sunny location. You can use a heating mat to accelerate germination, if you like.
  • Containers – seedling trays or any shallow containers with appropriate drainage.

What do I do?

  • Read up on the specific plant you want to grow. Most are started in soil, by placing them under a light cover of soil and keeping them moist (but not soaking wet) in a warm location that has access to sunlight. Using a seed tray and cover, as well as a heating mat, provides seeds with the warmth and moisture that many of them need to germinate.

Seed tray and heating mat
  • Some plants that have tough shells (like pumpkins) and/or are difficult to germinate (like peppers) can be started by placing the seeds between a damp folded piece of paper towel, which is then placed in a closed Ziploc bag over a warm heat source, such as a heat vent. Once the seed has sprouted, you can carefully move it to soil (cutting the paper towel as necessary to protect the root).
  • Make sure to keep the soil damp according to the type of plant you are going to grow. Some like more water than others.
  • Rotate the trays as needed to ensure that they receive light.

Anyone else have any other tips?

We’ll check in later once our seeds have sprouted.

Just dirt for now…

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