How Do I Start My Vegetable Garden Indoors?

You Ask, We Answer: How Do I Start My Vegetable Garden Indoors?

We’re in the throes of spring’s glory here in Connecticut, and while we at Calcagni Real Estate don’t want to rush the season, summer’s vegetable gardens are calling. If you’re planning on growing fresh veggies this summer, consider starting now: indoors. Here’s how to start your vegetable garden indoors to ensure your bounty come summer’s sun.

Why should I start my vegetable garden indoors?

Starting your vegetable garden indoors has its benefits. By growing seeds inside before you plant them in your garden, you have access to many more vegetable varieties than you’d find in seedlings—and that means you can get creative with colors, flavors and even shapes of the veggies you most like to eat. We’ve heard we should “eat the rainbow”—and what better chance to do so than with an array of vegetable options?

Growing seeds indoors doesn’t just come down to aesthetics, however. Some of our most-loved veggies like tomatoes and peppers actually have longer “lead times”—meaning because they’re native to warmer climates, they don’t so well in our cool Connecticut soil in spring. Planting them indoors allows them to begin growing and thriving before being transferred to the warmer soil come summer in Connecticut—and that means you’ll be able to enjoy these veggies in your summer salads!

One more reason to start your vegetable garden indoors? More veggies, and earlier picking. Indoor seeds allow your veggies to get a “head start,” and that can lead to more of them ripened and ready for picking earlier.

What will I need to start my vegetable seeds?

Now that you know the benefits of growing your veggies from indoor seeds, you’re ready to start your indoor vegetable garden.

First, think small. While it’s exciting to think about feeding your loved ones straight from your yard, Burpee Seed Company recommends “no more than a couple dozen plants in three or four varieties. It’s not complicated or difficult once you understand the process, but it’s best to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed at first.”

Once you’ve chosen your plants, choose your seed-starting soil mix. It should be light and fluffy to allow seedlings to poke through, and designed to hold enough moisture to foster growth without holding on to too much moisture that can cause your plants to rot. Look for soil mixes specifically designed for growing seedlings.

Next, choose your growing containers. If you have plastic pots with drainage holes that you’d like to reuse, those will work; a reusable seed starting kit is also a great option, as are biodegradable containers that will break down over time right in the soil.

Lastly, consider heat mats for your growing your seeds. These mats are made for helping to usher seeds into healthy plants, warming the soil gently and evenly to about 10 degrees warmer than the room temperature—perfect for germination.

Planting your vegetable seeds

You have your supplies, and now the fun begins! First, choose a spot where your seeds will get plenty of light. Without it, your seedlings will struggle to grow into healthy plants. If you don’t have a sunny spot in your house, you’ll want to consider an artificial grow light to help your seeds get what they need to grow well.

Moisten your soil before planting your seeds. You’ll want to keep soil moist but not wet, which can cause rot. Plant your seeds according to the directions on the packets, then check on them daily to monitor their growth, soil moisture and adjust light as needed. If you’re growing your seeds in sunlight, rotate the containers daily so they don’t grow in one single direction. If using a grow lamp, you’ll want to monitor the height of your seedlings and adjust the light to 3-4” above the plants.

Once your seedlings start to really grow, Burpee recommends you “harden off” them off. “Introduce your plants to the sun gradually, a process called ‘hardening off’. Expose them to sunlight for one hour more each day for a week. During this time bring them to a protected location outside when they are not in the sunlight. If there will be a frost at night, bring them inside. After a week or so, they will have acclimated to the outdoors and will be ready to transplant into your garden!”

And last but not least, don’t rush planting your seedlings! Connecticut spring may mean late snow storms or frosts, so wait until the soil is warming up for the best growing conditions before transplanting your seedlings into your garden.

Happy growing!


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