Starting Seeds Indoors: Get a Jump on Spring

Starting Seeds Indoors: Get a Jump on Spring

Bethany Johnson headshotPosted by Bethany Johnson, guest blogger

Most parts of the country have had a long, snowy winter, and even though it is officially spring, many people still have snow blanketing their backyards. One way to ease your cabin fever is to start your spring garden early. Think it’s impossible? Not at all, if you try starting seeds indoors. In fact, almost all of your plants can be started inside, including herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Many plants don’t need this extra head start, but it doesn’t hurt. I decided to plant my seeds early and document the process with photos to share with others.

  • Step 1: First, purchase the seeds for the plants you want to grow. I recommend a simple, yet gratifying, wildflower mix. Some of the seeds will germinate within hours, while others will take weeks.Seed packet
  • Step 2: Grab some kitchen pans that are at least an inch deep. If you want a more interesting or permanent container when starting seeds indoors, opt for some repurposed boxes or shallow vases.Empty pans outside.
  • Step 3: To make the planting process a family endeavor, bring along your children and head outside. Find the spot in your yard where you eventually want to plant your garden. Fill each pan with about three-quarters of an inch of dirt.Hand adding dirt to the pans
  • Step 4: Smooth the soil in each pan so that it is somewhat even.Pans full of dirt
  • Step 5: Don’t be deterred if you find roots, rocks, or even weeds in your soil. If you’re using a wildflower mix, the resilient plants will be able to fend for themselves—in fact, many experts call wildflowers weeds.Hand showing a weed in pan full of soil.
  • Step 6: Another tip is to re-purpose old potting soil you might have around the house. The soil pictured was from store-bought tulips from Valentine’s Day. since it still had some nutrients, I decided to add it to my pans of backyard soil.Pouring out a pot of potting soil.
  • Step 7: Next, the soil has to be moistened, but not “watered.” A spray bottle is perfect for this.Spray bottle spraying water onto soil.
  • Step 8: Wildflower seeds are planted by “broadcasting,” or sprinkling, them onto the soil. No need to dig holes or bury them.Hand sprinkling wildflower seeds on soil.
  • Step 9: Give the pot another spritz of water for good measure.Spray bottle spraying water on soil.
  • Step 10: The pans should be set near a window. (Yes, that’s snow on the ground outside.)Two seeded pans of dirt next to sunny window.
  • Step 11: The very next day, nature gave me a gift: one of my seeds had germinated. This is called a cornflower and will eventually be a bright blue pop of color in my backyard.Germinated seeds.
  • Step 12: As the days progress, you’ll see another cornflower seed germinate, and then another. What a feeling!Germinating seed.

It may take weeks for all the wildflower seeds to germinate, but if you spritz the soil twice a day, you will end up with a little meadow in your kitchen window. On the day of the final frost, you can bring the pans outside and introduce your tiny bit of nature to the outdoors.

A Word on Weeds

It may seem that you are breaking a number of rules in this endeavor, including using non-sterile soil from our backyards, which will inevitably contain weeds. But the goal is not to follow the rule book; it is to scratch that springtime itch, the desire to watch something come alive. When your seeds sprout and you can tell the difference between each one, pluck out the weeds. If you’re not sure which ones are weeds, simply look on the back of your seed packet for a list of the flowers that should be growing. A simple Internet search can also show you what each seedling should look like.

There are many crucial guidelines for planting seeds outside, but if you’re wondering when to start seeds indoors, now is as good a time as any. Tweet images of your germinated seeds and tag @TomsofMaine, or @Toms_of_Maine on instagram to join the fun!

Image source: Bethany Johnson