Starting Seeds Indoors: 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Starting seeds indoors is a smart and inexpensive way to grow plants. Compared to buying garden-ready seedlings, germinating your own seeds definitely saves you more money. A high-quality seeds pack and some potting mix are all you really need for this process—the rest of the stuff like containers can easily be recycled from milk cartons and newspapers.

Indoor seed starting also gives you a head start on the growing season. There are lots of interesting varieties to choose from, plus you can enjoy your vegetables much earlier when you start your seeds this way.

Now in order to succeed with this method, you need to know the basics so you can avoid risky mistakes along the way. Listed below are the four most common mistakes in seed starting. Be sure to keep them in mind so you can have a smooth time growing your seeds indoors. Good luck!

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Growing Seeds Indoors – Common Mistakes

NO 1: Not Enough Light
Seedlings need a lot of light. No matter what anyone tells you, chances are that you don’t have enough natural light in your house to grow robust seedlings. Even a South facing window usually won’t do. However, you can use artificial light. Either get some grow lights, developed specifically for plants, or for a more economical solution, simply get some large fluorescent shop lights and put in one warm bulb and one cool.

Hang the lights from chains so that you can raise them up as your seedlings grow. Keep the lights as close to the seedlings as possible without touching (2 to 3 inches). After your seedlings appear, you’ll want to keep the lights on for 12 to 16 hours a day. To make this easier, you can easily hook up a timer to turn your lights on and off automatically.

NO 2: Too Much or Too Little Water
Give your seedlings too much or too little water – either way they are toast. This is perhaps the most challenging part of growing plants from seeds. Because seedlings are so delicate, there is very little room for error when it comes to watering. You want to keep your sterile, seed starting medium damp, but not wet.

NO 3: Planting Too Deep
Seeds are finicky when it comes to how deep they like to be planted. Some seeds need complete darkness to germinate and some like some light. This information is usually on the seed packet. If there isn’t any information, the rule of thumb is to plant seeds twice or three times as deep as they are wide. This can be a challenge to figure out, but if you’re not sure, don’t plant your seeds in too deep.

For seeds that need light to germinate, you’ll want to make sure that they are in contact with your seed starting medium, but not covered. To do this, first press the medium gently down to make a firm surface. Then place your seed on top of your medium and gently push down, making sure the seed is still exposed.

NO 4: Too Cool
For seeds to germinate, most must be kept warm 65 to 75 °F. A favorite place to do this is on top of the refrigerator. There are also special “seedling mats” that you can buy to put under your seeds. You can also use a small heater put on a timer placed next to your seedlings. You will only need to worry about this until the seeds sprout.

After that, most can tolerate fluctuating temperatures (withing reason). Also, and whatever type of light you use, natural or artificial should produce enough heat to keep them happy.

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