Starting seeds indoors doesn’t have to be expensive. Depending upon the resources you can access, you may be able to start your seeds indoor for little or no money.
Sure, there are lots of expensive lamps and heat sources and planting devices out there that can help you, but I do not find them necessary.
Today, I am going to share with you how I start my seeds indoors. You will find lots of other websites giving you other ways, but I have figured out how to keep the overhead costs of starting a garden as close to zero as possible and that’s what I want to share with you.
If you are completely new to gardening, then you might want to take some time to do a little research online, at a store, or in a library book and figure out just what you want to plant, have the space to plant, when you should start your seedlings and determine your hardiness zone. I typically start tomatoes, peppers & watermelon indoors. Read your package to see how far in advance you need to plant your seeds indoors. Tomatoes are typically planted indoors 8-10 weeks before you would plant them outside, whereas the peppers and watermelon I start indoors 6 weeks prior to planting outside. Other plants I have successfully planted indoors and transplanted outdoors are a variety of squash plants & cucumbers, but those also grow well if planted directly from seed in the garden when the ground is warm enough. Everything else I plant, goes directly in to the ground.
A couple ideas to keep in mind to keep your costs down is to save seeds at the end of the season or ask a friend who saves seeds if they would be willing to share seeds with you that year. Most of us who save seeds usually save a lot more than we will ever use that next year. Just remember that if the seed is not of a heriloom variety, it could be completely different in your second year of planting with your saved seeds.
Another thing to consider is to ask a friend or two to share seeds. The packets of seeds will yield you many more plants than you need or want to plant, so share seed packets and cut down your costs. I also want to mention that if you don’t use all your seeds, don’t throw them away. I know that the packets have an expiration date on them, but I have successfully planted seeds that were 1-3 years past their date on the package; I just plant more of those seeds in case they don’t sprout.
Now that you have your seeds, just gather a few supplies that you have been saving which include some egg cartons, yogurt cartons and gallon milk jugs (to be used once your transplant in the ground in case of cooler night temperatures) as well as some plastic wrap and seed starting mix (I paid $3.47 for 10 qts. at Lowe’s, but you will probably not use much, so this is another thing to split the cost on and share with a friend.)
Cut the tab part away from egg carton and recycle, then cut the top & bottom apart and put the top underneath the bottom (this will help provide some more stability). Place your egg carton on top of pieces of plastic wrap large enough to wrap up on top and have 1-2″ of head room for the plant to grow. Fill the holes with seed starting mix and place 2 seeds in each one. Cover with seed starting mix and water thoroughly so that the mix and bottom egg carton are saturated. Roll up your plastic wrap on top, leaving 1-2″ of head room and roll up the sides. This will create a greenhouse for your plants. Leave plastic wrap in place until most seeds have sprouted (some seeds may be duds, which is why you plant 2 in each). Place in/near a south facing window to ensure that the plants receive enough sunlight.
Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic wrap. At this point you will need to check the dryness of the soil regularly to ensure it doesn’t dry out and water as necessary. Continue growing your plant in the egg carton until you have 2 sections with leaves (upper & lower). At this point you will transplant your seedlings into your yogurt containers and you will pick the strongest plants to transplant if you don’t have enough containers for all of them.
I like to introduce my plants outside in their containers a couple weeks before planting and keep them in our 3 season porch. Then when the ground is warm enough I will transplant them in the ground. I transplant in to container gardens 1-2 weeks earlier than the in-ground garden because the soil is warmer earlier, but I do use gallon milk jugs with the bottoms cut off to put over these plants in the evening to protect them from the nighttime coolness.
Enjoy gardening this upcoming growing season and don’t forget to save your seeds. And if you don’t want to wait to feast on some home grown vegetables, try growing your own sprouts, this only takes a week total.