How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ready, set, grow

By Katherine Clarkson
Posted 3/16/23

With our growing season fast approaching, it is time to begin indoor seeds. If you are new to seed starting, this beginner’s guide will provide some sowing tips and common mistakes. Let’s …

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ready, set, grow


With our growing season fast approaching, it is time to begin indoor seeds. If you are new to seed starting, this beginner’s guide will provide some sowing tips and common mistakes. Let’s dig in and let the planting begin.

The first inquiry you might ask is why begin seeds indoors? It gives you a head start and is required for warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes. There are simply not enough days in the growing season to sow warm weather produce directly in the soil. In addition, it can give you a greater sense of accomplishment when you harvest from a plant you began from a seed. Also, there is a wider selection of seeds to choose from that you may not find at your local garden center. My favorite place to purchase seeds is from Baker Creek Heirloom ( They have such a vast array and reward you with free seeds with most purchases. Select seeds that will prosper in our area. Which leads to the next question, what seeds should we plant indoors?

Not all seeds should be started indoors. For example, root crops like carrots, turnips and beets dislike having their roots moved. Herbs such as dill and parsley, which have a long taproot, suffer from being transplanted. And greens that rapidly mature and can tolerate cold temperatures like radishes and peas will flourish when directly sowed in the ground. You can cultivate tomatoes, peppers, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower indoors. Once you select your seeds, you might wonder when should you sow the seeds inside?  

It is very easy to be overly ambitious and sow seeds too soon. As a general guideline, we can do sowing about six to eight weeks before the last frost. To find out when the final frost may happen, consult the Farmer’s Almanac. Additionally, we should look on the packages to determine when to sow the seeds. With some knowledge about what and when to plant, now let’s talk about how to sow indoors.

The first step is to choose a planting tray or containers. Select something that fits your allowance or upcycle something old. You want to use a vessel that has good drainage. If the container you chose does not have good drainage, you can always drill some holes in it. The most intriguing “receptacle” I have seen is a cake style ice cream cone. Not only is it a sensible price, but you can also transplant the entire cone. Just do not mistake your seed cones for a late-night snack! With your selection of seeds picked and your containers ready, it is time to decide on a soil.

The most vital aspect of seed planting is using the appropriate soil. Typically, seed starter mixes contain a variety of components, such as vermiculite, perlite, sphagnum peat moss, and are low in nutrients. Seed starting mix is customized to encourage seeds germinating, which is why it is low in supplements. When you plant your seeds, carefully push down on the adjoining soil. This will help strengthen the roots. Place the containers in a warm location and cover it with a lid to help maintain moisture. You want to keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Once the seed has sprouted, wait until the seedling has its second set of leaves before you nourish it. Following the above steps should result in successfully germinating. Furthermore, you may enhance your success by evading these common mistakes.

Do not start your seeds too soon, they might not get enough light, which results in “leggy,” “scrawny seedling.” Aim to keep your soil temperature between 65-70 degrees F. Place your seed trays in a south-facing window to give them ambient light. Keep the soil moist not wet and once the seeds sprout, do not forget to water them. Seedlings do not have an extensive root system that is needed to rely on for essential water. Give your seedling daily attention to check the moisture level, temperature, and amount of light. The Hindi word for seed is bija, which translates literally to “containment of life.” They are tiny miracles that contain everything needed to make a new plant. And perpetually keep a journal to learn from past success and failure.

Cultivating plants from seeds is not always effortless, but following these guidelines should get your seeds off to a healthy beginning. And do not blame yourself if you are unsuccessful. Just like in life, we often gain knowledge from trial and error. Thank you for reading and if you have questions or comments, please reach out to me at