Another great way to continue gardening during the winter season is to start growing seeds. However, starting seeds indoors can be a daunting task for any gardener.
Seed packets provide a lot of essential information that aid in successfully growing seeds. Nevertheless, there are some common mistakes every gardener should be wary of when starting seeds indoors – and TheSpruce.com has compiled a great list of these mistakes. Here are some highlights:
Not Having Enough Light
To grow into healthy plants, seedlings need an abundance of light that is typically not found indoors. To add to any natural light in the house, and create the level of light the seedlings need, artificial lights can be used.
These artificial lights should be kept as close as possible to the seedlings without touching them, typically 2-3 inches away. Then, once the seedlings start sprouting, the lights should be on them for about 12-16 hours each day.
Under or Overwatering
One of the most challenging aspects of starting seeds is proper watering. Seedlings are very delicate, meaning there is very little room for under or over watering to occur.
However, there are a few tricks gardeners can do to help:
- To help keep the soil moist, gardeners can cover the container with plastic. Once the seeds germinate the plastic can be taken off.
- To reduce the possibility of over-watering, gardeners can try “watering from the bottom.” This process allows seedlings to soak up water through the drainage holes of the container. The water should be added slowly, over 10-30 minutes, and gardeners should ensure the moisture reaches the top of the soil.
- Check on the soil every day.
When growing seedlings, timing is everything. Most plants do not like colder temperatures and will cause unnecessary stress on the plant. This additional stress causes the plant to be more susceptible to disease and pests.
Typically, seedlings are ready to be moved outside about 4-6 weeks after starting. So, it is important to plan accordingly.
When the seedlings are large enough to go outdoors, it is important to transition them properly. To do this, gardeners need to perform a process called hardening-off. This process will prepare the seedlings for the various outdoor conditions.
To start this process, expose the plants to the outdoor elements for an hour at a time. Slowly increase the time outdoors over the course of 6-10 days.
It is important to pay attention to the weather conditions for each hardening-off session. If one day is particularly rainy or cool, the time of the hardening-off session should be decreased.
Hardening-off seedlings can be a time-consuming process, but it is well worth it when the seedlings start thriving in their new, outdoor environment.
Starting seeds indoors can be a trying process, but it’s important not to give up! Plants need a lot of time and attention to grow.
However, when this time and attention is provided, gardeners can grow the thriving garden of their dreams.