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Starting Seeds Indoors

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Often it is recommended that certain seeds be started indoors in order to get a jump start on the growing season. This is a guide about starting seeds indoors.
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February 25, 2010

Winter is breaking, Spring is around the corner, and once again, I'm looking at all of the garden catalogs, but one thing is different this year. My husband lost his job, and we can't buy anything we want. Thank goodness I love starting plants from seed.

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We have a local five and dime store that sells some seeds for 10 cents a packet, and that's what I will do. I will grow old favorites like cosmos, and maybe even marigolds, along with veggies like cucumbers, beets, radishes, pumpkins, and of course, tomatoes.

Being responsible for the soil flat, the soil, watering, then planting the seeds, and watching them sprout is very rewarding, then I grow them on, and transplant them outside, and watch them grow and blossom.

Being able to eat the rewards is also enriching. When my husband and I moved here, we had hardly any money. Because my mother had taught me how to grow seedlings, what I though would be a dismal year, turned into one of the most rewarding years I've ever had. I grew wonderful beets and radishes that I'd never grown before, and the few flowers we had took on a whole new meaning, and they came from those 10 cent seed packets that the five and dime stores sell.

To this day, it amazes me what beauty a person can grow from a tiny 10 cent seed packet. I can't wait to get to the five and dime store, and see what seeds they have for sale, so I can get started. I hope they have lettuces, too.

Even during hard times, I feel so rich because my mother taught me how to start plants from seed.

By Carol L. from South Bend, IN

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By 12 found this helpful
April 9, 2012

When it's time to transplant my seedlings into larger pots, I usually have a good supply of recycled plastic yogurt cups. But this year, I ran out of them. This turned out to be a good thing as it forced me to try something new. And probably even better.
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I went to my stash of paper towel tubes that I save for kids' crafts. I found that I could get 3 pots from one tube.

After cutting the tube into thirds, I cut 3/4" slits around one end of the tube. Then folded the cut parts in to form a bottom for the pot. A bit of tape will keep it secure. You'll remove the tape before planting if you intend to plant the tube pot in the ground along with the seedling.

Fill partially with soil and tuck your seedling into its new pot. Add the rest of the soil and water. By the time the seedlings are ready to plant outdoors, the pot should be softened up considerably from watering and will add good stuff to the soil.

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It might be necessary to open up the bottom and tear the pot somewhat in order to allow roots to reach the soil easily. Or you can remove it completely if you want and put the used pot on your compost pile.

By June from upstate NY

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By 1 found this helpful
April 1, 2009

I am going to start this by saying, "My husband is the best." He helps me with everything and he is always encouraging me to find new things that I love and enjoy.
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Now granted he has not liked listening to my gardening plans repeatedly day after day, but he has been patient. So when I showed him that some of my seed choices would have to be started indoors, he was eager to help with the lighting situation (our kitchen is sunny but never sunny enough).

So his mother had some scrap 2x5's (I think) and we had a fluorescent light (cheaper but works just as good) and he made me the best seed germinator ever. I used simple seed starting trays. And it ended up costing nothing since we already had everything. Plus he painted it green so it looks better in the kitchen.

In the seed catalogs, something like this can get really expensive.

Jesikarena from Trinity, NC

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August 2, 2010

I love collecting seeds to propagate. I have been most successful in sprouting even difficult seeds by creating my own tiny greenhouse. I could buy one, but I prefer to use what I find in my own recycle bin. The plastic containers that rotisserie chickens from the supermarket come in and some take out containers from restaurants are PERFECT! The clear plastic ones with a "locking" lid. Some are all clear and some just have a clear lid, both are great.

Clean out the container with warm soapy water, rinse well, dry, and place your soil and seeds inside. Water enough to make soil wet but not enough to have runoff or "pool" when you tilt the container. Close the lid tightly

Place your "greenhouse" in a sunny window, let the condensation build, and open the lid every 2-3 days to check your seedlings and moisture level. If dry, add a small amount of water from a spray bottle.

Transfer sprouts to open pot or garden once your seedling is strong and tall! Admire your green thumb!

By EconomyStimul8r from Sunny South Florida

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By 2 found this helpful
April 1, 2011

To plant seeds and not take up a lot of space, use vinyl pouches and hang them on your windows with suction cups and water them with a turkey baster. This works well in a window that gets a lot of warm southern exposure light.

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March 17, 2017

Maybe one day I'll have an honest to goodness greenhouse. Til that day, I'll continue to 'make do' with what I have.

My Indoor Seedling Setup - cantaloupe seedling

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By 4 found this helpful
February 4, 2013

I have my medicine in my purse so I always stuff the doser cup with toilet tissue or facial tissue. It makes these darling little seed starters. I am going to make some of these for this spring, and put a little bit of honey in the bottom of it.

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By 3 found this helpful
April 22, 2013

An easy way to sprout seeds is to put the seed on a coffee filter and fold it over. Wet it and put it in a baggie. Close the baggie and wait for it to sprout.

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April 20, 2010

I use my strawberry container, or any type that has a clear top, to start my plants and veggies in. This acts as a mini green house for free. It keeps the moisture in and is able to get plenty of natural sun. This way you can get a head start on your gardening

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By 3 found this helpful
March 1, 2010

It's March. Time to start your garden seedlings! You know the clear egg cartons and the clear croissant or cookie containers with clear lids that you get at the grocery store? Don't throw them away! Buy seed starter discs and soak them in these containers.

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May 11, 20171 found this helpful

This guide is about 12 steps to sowing seeds indoors. Following these steps you can extend your growing season by as much as two months.

A collection of tomato seedlings.

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February 22, 2016

Do you start your own seeds each spring? Start saving your orange, grapefruit, Cutie, and such peels. Instead of peeling them normally, first slice them in half. Use the empty halves to fill with soil and your seeds. I have some old rusty muffin pans I use to stand them up in. You plant the entire thing.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 14, 2005

I read somewhere and am looking forward to trying this with my granddaugher. Start seeds in empty egg shells. Treat the carton like a lil green house. After plants have reached a size to plant, put egg shell which you've crushed into the ground.

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April 27, 20161 found this helpful

This is a guide about recycled drink bottle for watering seeds. Using a small plastic drink or water bottle you can make a convenient device for watering seeds.

Recycled Drink Bottle for Watering Seeds

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By 1 found this helpful
April 4, 2011

Save your paper or other take-out coffee cups to plant seeds in if you start seeds for the garden in the house, as we do here in upstate NY.

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January 2, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about determining when to start seeds indoors. Knowing your hardiness zone, frost dates, and the germination time line for your chosen seeds is important to deciding when to start seeds indoors.

Seedlings on a window sill.

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May 13, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about what you need to start seeds indoors. With proper light, indoor space, and growing medium, you can get a jump on the growing season.

A row of seedlings in divided pots.

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January 2, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about sprouting seeds. You can often save money and grow plants not readily available at a nursery or big box store, by sprouting your own seeds.

Sprouting Seeds

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January 2, 20170 found this helpful

This is a guide about starting seeds under fluorescent lights. When starting seeds indoors, you don't need to buy expensive grow lights, fluorescent lights will do the trick.

Plant seedlings.

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September 11, 2013

I did not have good luck with starting plants from seeds until I started using Jiffy 7 peat soil pellets indoor seed starter.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 22, 2011

Use the inner plastic lining from a biscuit tin or an egg box to sow seedlings before transferring out of doors or into larger pots. Saves a few cents.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 13, 2008

On February 1st, we planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, and peppermint. We are going to experiment with our Wall O Waters this year, so are preparing our plants well ahead of the normal Mother's Day planting date in our area.

Starting Seeds In February

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August 10, 20050 found this helpful

When you start seeds in the early spring, you need to keep them gently warmed to get the best rate of germination. The perfect gentle heat is on top of the refrigerator. Cover the trays so they won't dry out. You can stack them up if you're starting a lot of seeds.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 2 found this helpful
March 8, 2010

I live in Nebraska and have decided to start my own garden. I was wondering when do you start planting the seeds indoors so that I can later put them outside?

Hardiness Zone: 4b

By Teresa from NE

Answer Was this helpful? 2
March 9, 20100 found this helpful

Check on the back of the seed packet you plan on using. If not using a packet, it is normally about 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your area. Know your gardening zone before starting anything. Good Luck!

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March 11, 20100 found this helpful

Hi, I have been gardening for over 50 years and am still loving it. Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost in your area. After sowing your seeds keep soil "evenly moist" (not too wet) until they begin to germinate. Harden off seedlings by setting pots outside a few days before transplanting them to outside. Don't set in wind because wind will damage your seedlings. After transplanted to outside and seedlings seem to be doing ok, I like to water them with a weak ferterlizer like Miracle Gro. I hope this has been helpful to you. NC native

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March 12, 20100 found this helpful

Remember the need for good light to raise strong seedlings. I have used florescent light fixtures (like shop lights) hung from hooks mounted on the ceiling. I have small chains that allow the light to be lowered to just above the plantings. As the seeds sprout and grow taller, the bulbs are raised. I didn't use any special grow lights and my seedlings were very vigorous.

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March 12, 20100 found this helpful

Teresa, First you need to know when is a safe time to put your plants in the ground for your area. If you call your local County Extension Service, they can give you an idea as to a safe time. Look at the plant seed packet, calulate how low it takes for those seeds to germinate. They will get embryo leaves, then continue to grow to a stage where you can transplant them into small containers.

Once the weather starts getting a bit warm (not freezing)you need to let these baby plants get use to the outside elements like, sun, wind, etc. Just set them out for a few hours a day, this will strengthen them, so when you finally put them in the ground they will be nice and sturdy. If you put them it direct sun right away you may destroy these little tender plants-baby them and be nice to them until they are strong enough to take the outside elements.

This process of dragging the baby plants in and out can take a few weeks, be patient-it will pay off. This technique I used while living in Conn. where we had some long winters it worked every time. Some times we could not even put tomatoes in until Memorial Day! If you build your self a cold frame out doors you will not have bring the plants in and out. But you still have to lift the lid on those frames or you may bake your plants. all for now, jeannette (fla)

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By 0 found this helpful
May 23, 2007

I recently bought a second-hand seed sprouter kit, comprising of two plastic ridged trays and a lid, plus a bottom plastic tray. Unfortunately, there are no instructions listed on the box or a leaflet inside. I was wondering if anyone knew of an online site that showed how these work, or even could give me instructions on how I sprout seeds in it.

Cathy from Townsville, Queensland

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May 23, 20070 found this helpful

most sprouters work the same way. Mine is like this..there are little tits inside the trays. one in each. mine has a little thing on top of each one to keep seeds from filtering down into the next tray. the one on top usually is heavier than the trays themselves. then there is a bottom where all the water filters down into. put your different kinds of seeds in separate trays.line up the little (tits)for lack of a better name) one on top of each other. fill the very top tray with water almost to the top and then line it up with the rest of the tits. make sure you have the bottom on. make sure all the little tits are lined up so that the water in the top will filter down and eventually end up in the very bottom. do this twice a day. I also make sure that I wash the seeds once a day at least.

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May 25, 20070 found this helpful

Here are a couple sites you can check out for sprouting seeds.

http://www.prim  rg/sprouting.htm

http://weblife.org/sprouting.html

http://www.land  s/wbsprouts.html

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 25, 20070 found this helpful

See if there is a name of the sprouter on it somewhere. Then go to their website. sometimes I have gotten directions by doing this.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 8, 2014

I am growing a garden this year and starting my seeds inside. My cats keep getting into them. Can I cover them with plastic and still use my grow lights?

By Konrad J.

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March 11, 20140 found this helpful

Cats hate the smell of lemons. Get some, slice then chop the peel and dry them for a day. Scatter them around the starts and you shouldn't have any more problems. I hope this helps.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 27, 2011

I have a vegetable garden and this was my first. It did very well, however, I want to start seeds inside and transfer them into the ground next time. So my question is when should I start my seeds inside? I live in the Lubbock, Texas area.

By wondaful from Lubbock, TX

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October 1, 20110 found this helpful

Google the name of your local university plus the words cooperative extension service for the website of the local extension office-tonnes of fantastic information geared to your locale:)

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By 0 found this helpful
June 9, 2011

What is the best way to start flower seeds, should I put them in peat pots and wait till they sprout to plant them or should I just put the seeds in the ground and let them grow that way? Help!

By Melissa M.

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June 10, 20110 found this helpful

The answer to that is, it depends! :-) Some flowers don't like being transplanted and are better off being sown directly. Others you might begin indoors to get a head start on the growing season if frost is still a problem. The seed packet should give you an idea of how to best plant any particular blooms.

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September 11, 2012

I would like to start some perennial seeds indoors, basically, carnations, dianthus, poppies, etc. How and when do you start them indoors to plant by next spring? I am in zone 5 (Michigan). Also, I have some of the seeds, but don't know how long they are good for. I would be grateful for any help.

By Linda from Brighton, MI

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March 1, 20100 found this helpful

In getting ready for spring seedings for the garden, I realized just how well my curry herb has done with the 1 liter plastic bottomless bottle over it, secured with a stick. After sifting the soil through an old window screen for planting the seedlings, a way I can frugally protect my seedlings the best is to finally put my larger collection of clear plastic cookie, taco and various sized trays to use.

Since seedlings would likely "dampen off", or be too wet for the trays to just be inverted as they came from the original cookie packages, I heated the end of an old ice pick on the stove, not red hot, but very near, and poked holes through the bottoms of each tray while stacked, making the poking easier, not destroying any tray. I will cut strips of coffee filters to fit over the holes so the sand/soil will not fall out, along with the seeds, and to discourage any tiny pests from entering through the holes. This will allow the moisture to escape and the seedlings to grow to just the right height WITH protection from slugs/insects/wind and other weather.

Another interesting fact is that these clear tray/containers often come in different shapes and sizes, allowing for the planting of various seedlings' identification and for the use of unused left-over sticky labels/or taped paper, to be strategically placed on the outside of each one, along with any other dates/information necessary to keep track of. Place all containers of seedlings in part shade or indirect light, slowly moving towards full sun as they mature, testing several times a day to see how they react, and watching water level.

I will also toothpick each seedling for support as it grows bigger and for when I need to transplant it, although not all seedlings will transplant, such as carrots, because the label says it will cause distorted roots to grow IF it survives the transplanting.

I'm recycling my grandson's sandbox sand, which he no longer uses, into the bottom of each seedling's tray, on top of the coffee filter strips, for good drainage beneath the sifted soil/compost/sand layer.

I'm using the throwaway tray bottoms from birthday cakes and store-bought pastries, poking holes in the deepest parts of each trays' unique design, from the bottom, with the same hot ice pick. I don't have too many cake/pastry trays, but I will recycle the ones I've saved over several years from other folks' tossing them, even stacking/using two that match and mate up, so that one tray can collect drainage water and the other allow for drainage to the other lower tray.

As the seedlings get taller than the cookie trays' height, I will remove the cookie trays and place the higher original plastic cake covers over the taller seedling plants, AFTER punching evaporation holes into the top highest parts of the cover, and likely over several "sets" of seedlings because of the cake covers sizes being longer/wider.

The little "seedling kits" sold nowadays are really expensive, and don't work that well, I'm told. It feels really good to finally recycle the clear plastic trays more fully and productively.

Note: I'm going to put all "questionable" soil from previous pots in the alley area to fill potholes, rather than to take the chance that fungus and any disease will be transferred to my next plants. Also, I've sifted my compost, now "made" again (a year in the making), to mix a little with the sifted soil over the sand layer, to give the seedlings a gentle organic boost as they mature. The containers of any diseased plants from the previous season I will attempt to clean and bleach, inside and out, hoping they will still be useable for non-food crops, because I grow only organic things in my organic zeriscaped yard/garden. I will also be placing the seedling when transplanting on a flat bed using a single small hot NEEDLE hole at N, E, S, and W. directions in the bottom sides of various small clear plastic capped bottles, for water to keep the soil moderately moist. I'll place the lid on the bottles, locating them at evenly spaced intervals with a sharp eye/inspection as to any dry spots that might need a bottle moved closer, or wet spots that might need a bottle moved away slightly, or a NEW bottle with fewer holes. BEST YET, it's all free to the frugal gardener/recycler.

By Lynda from Texas

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April 26, 20110 found this helpful

I love to recycle the plastic containers from single applesauce servings and even plastic baby food containers. I'll poke holes in the bottom of the containers with a pair of scissors, then fill the containers with moistened potting soil. I either plant a seed or transplant a newly sprouted seedling to the container.

If it's still cold in the house, I cover the container with plastic until late February. These are the perfect size for me to start working on growing plants that will go into my garden when no chance of frost remains.

I also reuse drink bottles from Fuze to grow seedlings in. Their design makes it easy to cut in half evenly. This picture is a rose seedling I'm growing! I'm gradually preparing my garden I'll have in the Summer now.

By Sharon from Fairview, NC

Reuse Plastic Containers for Seedlings<br class=" hspace="10">

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March 7, 20110 found this helpful

Save empty yogurt cartons to start plant seedlings for your garden in the spring. Empty cardboard egg cartons also work good. So do clear plastic containers from the bakery-mini greenhouses.

By Melanie

Answers:

Empty Yogurt Containers For Starting Seeds

I usually find that egg cartons are too shallow and by the time the seeds are growing, they have dried out or the roots have grown too quickly. same with old toilet roll insides. Basically not worth the trouble. Better to use a proper seed growing tray and have enough depth for the roots and width not to dry out. (07/08/2005)

By

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March 8, 20100 found this helpful

Every year I hear people complain they missed starting their plants indoor.

If you are in Missouri, or growing regions 5 (really just check your local USDA zone map), this is the time to start.

In 2-3 weeks I will be planting my tomatoes indoors, in egg shells filled with potting soil. I place them in cut down egg cartons and put a domed clear plastic cake cover (from a Walmart cake) over the top.

They will be ready to plant by garden season. Later, I will also start inside my watermelon and zucchini and a few other plants.

If you are further south, you will want to start this process sooner.

By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri

Answers:

Starting Plants Indoors

Two people living in the same zone can still have drastically different last frost dates, which is the key to knowing when to start plants. For instance, I live in PA and my mom in MO: we both are in zone 6, but her average last frost date is mid-April and mine is mid-May, 4 weeks apart.

If you don't know your average last frost date, call your county extension (check your phone book government pages for the number) to find out when it is. Then take a calendar, mark the date, and number off the weeks before and after. Most seed packets will say when to plant the seeds and/or transplant starts relative to that date: for instance, start tomatoes 6-8 weeks before last frost, transplant after last frost. Cabbages can be planted out a few weeks before last frost if hardened off, and take about 4 weeks to get to transplant size, so you start them 6 weeks prior to last frost. Squash get planted out 2 weeks after last frost, beans about the time of last frost, etc.

So you can then take this information from the seed packets, go back to your calendar, and write in which weeks to start different kinds of seeds. Keep in mind that some crops, like lettuce and radishes, you may want to plant several small plantings of several weeks apart, so they aren't all ready at once. You can save this calendar and use it year to year, too. Who cares if the days of the week don't match this year.

If you plant fall crops, you will also want to find out your average first fall frost date, too, so you can determine what the latest date is that you can plant a crop and still have it mature. If beans take 60 days from seed to picking, you don't want to plant them when the frost date is only 40 days away. (02/16/2010)

By Contester

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February 8, 20100 found this helpful

Start your seeds indoors, and after they sprout put one plant per small pot in a cold frame outdoors.

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Related Content
In This Guide
Garden Tools
Sowing Seeds Tips and Tricks
Categories
Home and Garden Gardening SeedsApril 6, 2012
Guides
using bottle to wate
Recycled Drink Bottle for Watering Seeds
Plant seedlings.
Starting Seeds Under Fluorescent Lights
A row of seedlings in divided pots.
What You Need To Start Seeds Indoors
Sprouting Seeds
Sprouting Seeds
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