Feb 11, 2015

Garden Tip - indoor planting

Hello my friends.

If you live in Oklahoma and want to get a head start on spring veggies, you may have already started some seeds indoors. If not, I'm sharing a few tips on indoor planting that might help your seedlings out. Again, if you've read my posts before, we are not experts - just sharing what works for us.

First off, you need a good seed starting soil. It's not best to use compost or soil from your garden as the soil is a little harsh for the seedlings and can be too hard for the roots to grow in. If you're local, we get our mix from Grumpy's Garden. You can also make your own by mixing soil, peat moss and pearlite.

You also need containers. You can find containers at local nurseries, supermakets, etc. They come in a variety, flats, pods, larger containers. Get what works best for you and will be the easiest.

I'll show you how we started our seeds in flats with premixed potting soil.

First fill the container about two-thirds full with potting soil. Lightly tamp the soil down with something flat. They make soil tampers but I don't own one so I used a plastic box and it worked just fine.

Then sprinkle your seeds over the mix.

Depending on the seed size, you'll need to cover the seeds LIGHTLY with more soil.

For tomatoes, you just sprinkle some soil over and it's okay if they aren't fully covered. Other smaller seeds, like some flower seeds, don't need covered at all. And larger seeds need to be covered much more. Read the packet and it should give you directions for indoor planting - which is somewhat different than planting directly in soil outside.

Once the seeds are covered as needed, lightly tamp again.

Saturate the soil with a spray bottle. You need a lot of water on the seeds so they don't dry out. If you have a light sprayer, that will work too but it's not best to dump water in the container as it will make the seeds move around too much.

Then cover the container, either with a plastic lid or plastic bag and wait. You shouldn't need to water again until the seeds have sprouted - which may be a few days or weeks depending on the plant and age of seed.

Once the seeds have sprouted, watch the soil. You'll want to let it get a little dry between waterings but just don't let it completely dry out.

If you sow in flats, like we did, you'll need to wait until the plant has 4 true leaves before transplanting. And for those that don't know, the first leaves that sprout are not true leaves, all leaves after that are.

Anyway, you can then transplant to larger containers or buckets or if it's warm enough, put the container outside for a few hours a day and then transplant directly in your garden.

If you are wondering what we started indoors, here's a short list:
  • tomatoes of every variety - my neighbor gardener always starts his tomatoes on Super Bowl Sunday and has great results
  • spinach and greens - we like an early crop of greens so we start these indoors and transplant out. We plant more seeds in the garden at the same time as when we transplant the plants out because the indoor plants will bolt faster. It just means a longer season of greens. 
  • flowers - mainly marigolds so they'll have a head start to attract good insects when we plant them in the garden. We typically buy grown flowers at the nursery but we're trying everything by seed this year so it made sense to start these indoors. We also started some other flowers the girls picked but I don't know how those will transplant :)
  • herbs - similar to greens, we like an early, longer growing season and will plant seeds throughout the spring and summer to keep the herbs going
Oh, and lastly, if you start seeds early indoors, like tomatoes on Super Bowl Sunday, you'll need a small growing light above the seeds to keep them healthy. If you rely on the window sun the plants get tall and lanky and aren't very healthy. And yes, we have several indoor growing lights. We once grew an entire garden's worth of greens in a hall closet just to see if we could. hashtag weirdos.

This may sound more complicated that it actually is but people have told me how they haven't had success starting seeds indoors so I thought this may help.

So in short, get some potting soil, put it in a container, sprinkle some seeds in, cover with more soil, water, cover and wait.

Other planting tips here: garden planning, soil prep, spring planting, comfrey and buckwheat, strawberries.


  1. great tips, thanks!
    Quick question, I've never planted seedlings in one giant tray; just in individual dirt pods. How is transplanting them from the big trays into individual little dirt homes?!

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