Find out how to start vegetable seeds indoors using materials from your recycling bin, potting compost and your favourite vegetable seeds.
I prefer to start most of my seeds indoors because there is a higher chance of being successful.
Some seeds sown outdoors might get eaten by mice and slugs love to dine on freshly germinated seedlings. Growing them indoors also shelters your baby plants from extreme climates and gives them a more protected place to begin their life cycle. Most vegetables are quite easy to grow if you give them a good start.
Even if you don’t have a garden or a balcony you can grow some veggies on your window sill. That’s where we are going to start, even if you want to plant them out later on.
What do you need to start vegetable seeds indoors?
The only thing you need to buy is good potting compost and some seeds. Beginner friendly vegetables include lettuce, beans, spinach, tomatoes and peppers. But try growing what you are excited about. These are just some examples for plants you could even grow indoors without a garden. If you don’t want to buy seed pots you can easily make them yourself using empty fruit punnets, egg boxes, toilet paper rolls or recycled tin cans.
So, let’s get started. Here is what you Will need
- peat-free, multi-purpose potting compost
- seeds of your choice
- pots (shop bought or DIY)
- labels and a watering can (you can easily make these yourself too)
Choose how many plants you want to grow and sow just a few more seeds than needed, in case some of them fail.
Fill your container (pot, fruit tub, egg carton, etc) with potting compost.
Water your compost lightly and evenly. The compost should be damp, not too wet. It can be fun for children to dip a cotton ball into a bowl of water and squeeze it to moisten the compost.
Read the instructions on your seed packet. Some plants germinate better in the dark and need to be covered by a layer of compost. Others can be sown directly onto the compost and remain uncovered. I usually sprinkle small seeds like lettuce evenly over the compost and then cover them with another thin layer of potting compost. For bigger seeds like beans or spinach we poke a few holes into the soil before dropping one seed into each hole.
To speed up germination you can cover the pot with clear polythene or a plastic bag but that’s optional. The plastic acts like a mini green house and keeps the soil moist and warm. Place your seed pots on a windowsill and wait a few days. Check regularly for moisture but you probably won’t have to water them again until they germinate.
Remove the cover when you see the first signs of green appearing. Seedlings will be ready to be pricked out when the second pair of leaves emerges. These are known as “true” leaves. Depending on the plant and the climate you should see the first seedlings come up after 7 to 10 days. Some seeds like parsley are very slow to germinate (about 3 weeks) while others like radishes can come up after 5 days.
Carefully take the seedlings apart and plant them into modular trays or bigger pots. It depends now on the type of vegetables you grew and what your plans are. If you want to keep growing some veggies inside on the window sill you can plant them into a bigger pot. Here are some tips for transplanting your seedlings either indoors or outdoors into your garden.
I hope you give sowing your own vegetable seeds a try. It’s so rewarding to see the whole process from a tiny seed to a big healthy plant and thus creating your own wholesome food.