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Starting Seeds Indoors Under Grow Lights

Starting SeedsThe excitement of spring is contagious. To give your garden a head start, you can start your seedlings indoors – which is a simple and rewarding process. All you’ll need is a plant stand, a grow light, some sterile potting soil, water, and nutrients. This guide will give you the basics of starting your own seeds indoors.

Before You Begin

First, you’ll need some seeds. If you buy them from a gardening center, most of them will grow. However, if you decide you want to use that pack of seeds that’s been hanging around in your cupboard for a few years, you’ll want to do a germination test first. To do this, get a paper towel, ten seeds, and a plastic bag. Wet the towel just so it’s moist and place it in the bag. Put the seeds in the bag and mark the day you did so. Then, watch your seeds through what should be their normal sprouting time, whether it is two days or two weeks. If more than 7 out of 10 seeds sprout within their normal germination time, plant them in your plant stand, under the grow light, in the confident knowledge that at least 70% of your seeds will sprout. If less than 5 seeds sprout, you’ll more than likely get a poor yield of less than 50%. In that case, you can try planting them and see what happens, or you can go to the store and buy another new packet of seeds.

How to Start Your Seeds:

    1. Fill your pots with sterile soil to about ¼” from the rim of the pot. High-quality commercial soil is best. Then, water the soil thoroughly and make sure that the pots drain well. Dig a hole with your finger or a pencil and remember that the hole should be about four times as deep as the seed is wide. Put your seed in the hole and lightly cover them with the soil.

    2. Keep your seeds moist, but don’t drown them in water. Water them from the bottom (sit the pot in a saucer that has pebbles in it, and fill the saucer with water without letting the water touch the actual pot) if the seedlings are sensitive or if the plants need more humidity.

    3. It’s very important that your seedlings get the correct amount of light. Check your seed’s package for their own individual needs. “Full Sun” generally means that the plant needs a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. To accomplish this, you will need a fluorescent grow light. These lights are designed specifically to grow plants. Put your grow light about 6-9 inches from the top of your plants and give them a phot period of between 14 - 16 hours. Some plant stands have grow-lights built into them for this exact purpose.

    4. Provide your seedlings with a high-quality liquid fertilizer. Make a weak solution and feed your seedlings once a week.

    5. To get your seedlings ready for life outside, ‘harden’ them by bringing them outdoors for a few hours, sitting them in a shady spot, then bring them back inside. Do this for about a week, increasing the time they spend outdoors and in the sun each day.

    6. To transplant your seedlings into your garden, water both the seedlings and the ground first. Transplant your young plants after the frost danger has passed, and try to transplant on a cloudy day to minimize transplant shock. Dig a hole in the new ground about twice the size of the seedling’s root ball and cover the root ball with about a quarter inch of soil. Water immediately after transplanting and every day for the first week.

Growing seedlings indoors with the assistance of a grow light and plant stand gives your garden a head start in the spring. The seedlings also add a touch of magical green to your home in the process!

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