Baby, it’s cold outside, but spring is just around the corner, so even if you don’t garden year-round outdoors, now is the time to prepare for spring. Getting a head start on the growing season indoors will insure your garden lights the landscape up come spring.
Make a list of what you want to grow, take inventory of what you have, then sit down with your seed catalogs and order what you want. Don’t wait too late in the season because not only might you be faced with items you want being sold out for the season, but your order may arrive long past the time when seed starting should take place.
Most seeds are started 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area. This time frame varies though depending on the type of seeds you are sowing and how soon in the season you want them to bloom. For example, I am sowing tomato seeds right now even though it is only January and the last frost in my area is May 15th. The reason? I will plant them outdoors, under cover, in the cold frame around the end of March or the beginning of April and begin harvesting tomatoes earlier than most people.
While you are waiting for your seeds to arrive, wash all your old seed starting containers in hot, soapy water and give them a final rinse with hydrogen peroxide. This cleans and sterilizes them. Starting with clean pots is essential to the health of seedlings.
Set your grow lights up. They should be a mere 6 inches above the top of the seedlings. This keeps the seedlings from getting leggy, which happens when the seedlings do not receive adequate light. Leggy seedlings are very tall and skinny. Sometimes they will make it, but the grown plant will not look as nice as one that had everything it needed as a seedling.
If you make your own soil, get it ready and if you buy it, go ahead and do that. Keep the soil warm so it does not shock the seedlings when you transplant them.
If you use the paper towel germination method, make sure you have plenty of paper towels and containers or plastic bags to put them in.