How to Start Seeds For Your Garden Inside

Last Updated on October 1, 2022 by Ellen Christian

Do you know how to start seeds for your garden inside? In Vermont, our growing season is fairly short.  Because of that, many vegetables need to be planted as plants directly into the garden after the last frost date which for us is May 25th.  

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How to Start Seeds For Your Garden Inside

How to Start Seeds For Your Garden

These plants tend to include vegetables like tomato, pepper, Brussels sprouts, and many varieties of herbs and flowers.  I could do it the easy way and head to my local garden center and buy plants to plant in my garden.  Being the frugal gardening gal that I am, I just can’t see spending that much money to buy plants I could easily grow myself from a .99c packet of seeds.

If you’re wondering how to start seeds for your garden, keep reading. Starting plants from seed is really very easy. I thought I’d share my experiences in case you’d like to try it yourself.  Remember that you want your plants to be big enough to plant outside when your last frost date arrives.  For me, plants need to be big enough by May 25. Check this for your last frost date.

How to start seeds for your garden

First, you need to look at the back of your seed packet and find out how long it takes for the seed to grow to transplant age.  Peppers tend to be about eight weeks old when we plant them outside.

So basically, the absolute latest date I want to start my pepper seeds is March 25 if I want them to be outside on May 25.  I add in about a week or so to “harden off” the plants (basically get them used to outside temperatures and wind).  So by March 15 at the latest, I want to start my pepper seeds inside.

How to start seeds for your garden

What type of light do I need?

You will need a source of direct sunlight or a grow light of some sort.  Seeds require a warm, sunny place and a moist growing medium to grow properly.  Because I don’t have any sunny windows in my house (being in the woods), I use grow lights to make sure my seeds get enough light to germinate and grow properly. 

If you have a great sunny window in your home, you can place them in front of the window.   If you don’t have a sunny window, you need a simple fluorescent light.  I turn it on when I wake up (about 6 am) and turn it off around 8 pm.

How to Start Seeds For Your Garden Inside

Tips for starting seeds indoors

It’s important to make sure that the seedlings aren’t getting a draft or that the soil isn’t staying too cold or the seeds won’t germinate.  If they aren’t as warm as you’d like, you can set the pots on a heating pad on low heat. If possible, consider using a greenhouse.

How to Start Seeds For Your Garden Inside

You will need small pots for starting seeds indoors.  I got a bunch from Freecycle but if you can’t find any free, you could use old yogurt containers. Just make very certain they have good drainage.  If seeds are too moist, they will mold and die.

garden soil

Start seeds for your garden in starting mix

You will need a seed-starting mix to grow them in.  Whatever you do, don’t just use regular dirt from outside unless you sterilize the soil first.  What will happen is every single tiny little speck of weed and grass that exists in that dirt will start to grow along with your seed. If you’re going to start seeds for your garden, you don’t want to deal with weeds.

Unless you’re very familiar with exactly what your seed is going to look like when it first pops through the soil, don’t go this route or you’ll be growing a lovely garden full of weeds. I try to find something that says organic on it to make sure it’s free of any type of chemicals.

How to start seeds for your garden

Now that you have all your supplies, you need seeds.  I try to find seeds that say organic on them.  That way I know they were probably grown without chemicals. 

When I start seeds for my garden, I look for seeds that say heirloom or non-hybrid.  That way I know their original gene structure hasn’t been messed about with by scientists.  They aren’t hard to find, there will be seed displays starting to pop up everywhere.  Just look at the front of the package and avoid anything that says hybrid.  If it says organic and/or heirloom, that’s the one I’d choose.

tiny plants growing pots

Starting seeds indoors

The back of the seed package will have all the information on it that you need to know. It tells you how deep to plant the seed and whether it needs to be started as a seed inside or can be planted directly outside (like a cucumber).  It will also tell you how long it takes to grow to maturity. When you’re thinking about how to start seeds for your garden, keep in mind you won’t start all the seeds at the same time.

What should I plant them in?

Start your seeds early, keep them warm and moist and provide plenty of sunlight and you’ll have healthy plants to put in your garden this spring.  Now that you know how to start seeds for your garden, why not create a cool pot to plant things in?

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