Winter time for me is spent going through various seed catalogs and dreaming of springtime warmth and flowers. I start almost all of my seeds indoors before planting them in containers or the ground. I grow almost all my seeds in containers or I use hydroponics (Learn how I made my Hydroponics system here). There is something about watching a small sprout grow into a beautiful plant. Starting seeds indoors doesn’t take much time. Set aside a few minutes a day to water, and leave the rest up to the seedlings.
(Quick note: this post contains affiliate links which help me pay for this blog.)
LIGHTING and TIMING
First let’s talk about light. In the Winter, light is scarce. If you grow plants indoors you will need a south facing window and a grow light. Grow lights are amazing! I have watched my oregano grow from tiny one leafed sprouts to several inches high during the winter just because of my grow light (and regular watering). I purchased two grow lights that are good for flowering and vegetables. That way, when my plants get bigger, I can still use the lights.
Here are two grow lights I use ( Affiliate links)
This floodlight grow light works really well for starting seeds. If you position it directly above your seeds, your plants won’t grow as crooked, and will grow strong. I highly recommend using this one.
This particular grow light can be used in a lamp. It’s easy to use. I use mine in a metal desk lamp, rotating my plants every few days so they grow straighter This could be used for a smaller setup for starting seeds.
Along with light, if you choose to go with a grow light I highly recommend using a timer. You will need 10 hours of light minimum. Timers will automatically turn your grow lights on if you are home or not. I have some plants in a south facing window, so the light goes on from sunset (around 5PM) to 10 or 11pm. Then on at 7am-9am until the sun shines through. I have my seedlings in another room which faces N. I have the light on from 5am-7am (the room also has a window facing East so it gets morning sun. Then it turns on from 12pm-10pm. Below is an example of a 24-hour mechanical timer. (Affiliate link)
The type of dirt or potting mix you use is very important. First, make sure the soil you use does not have added pesticides or chemicals. If you are new to starting seeds indoors, then I would suggest an organic mix made specifically for starting seeds. You need the right ratio of minerals for seedlings, and a mix normally has what you need.
The containers you choose will depend on the plants you grow. I use an assortment of plastic and biodegradable potting containers. Below are some examples of what I use (affiliate links). The biodegradable pots I like better because they are bigger than the plastic, and don’t dry out as fast.
Having some sort of dome or cover is a must if you want to succeed! It helps keep moisture in, and keep gnats and bugs out. They are also great for growing wheatgrass in too!
Where you buy your seeds can be important too. I recommend companies that don’t sell GMO. There are also groups that trade seeds on Facebook. I get mine from several different companies that I trust. Most will give you free catalogs to look at. You will want to buy your seeds well before Spring if you want to start them indoors.
If you live in a city, most likely your water has chlorine, if it does, fill a gallon container and let it sit overnight. If you have well water, I would recommend testing the PH of your water. A PH meter like this one comes in handy, especially if you have a hydroponics set up too. (Affiliate link)
I took a spray bottle top and added it to a glass bottle I had. It works well for watering. You will want gently mist the seedlings, keeping it moist, until they are ready to go out in the world.
When you are ready, gently mist all your seed starting pots. Follow the directions for each seed on how deep to plant, and when. I keep a “journal” for all my seedlings, writing down when I planted, and when the first sprouts came up, all the way through when they go outside. This will help you remember when you planted, and watered them as they get older.
I hope you have great success in your planting endeavors!