When to seed? Ideally you want your seedlings ready to be transplanted outdoors once the last chance of frost has passed. For us that is usually mid April.  Your seed packets will tell you how many weeks before last frost date to plant your seeds.  Beans and squash germinate and grow quickly, so they are often just sown outdoors in mid April.

Choose your containers Seed trays are idea as they take the guess work out of it. They also have drain holes and usually come with a clear cover to help hold moisture and heat.  However any container can be used as long as it is at least 2-3 inches deep, and has drain holes. Yogurt containers and Styrofoam cups work fine.

Prepare the soil For your best success, use a soil designed specifically for growing seedlings. Outdoor planting soil and even container mixes do not have the qualities your seedlings require.  Do not reuse potting soil; start fresh so you know you have sterile soil. When filling your containers, moisten the soil first, and firmly compact the soil as you fill. This will help eliminate air gaps and settling.

Planting your Seeds Your seed packets will tell you how deep to plant your seeds or if you are to sprinkle them on top of the soil.  Once planted moisten the soil. To speed up germination, cover your seed with plastic wrap or the clear lid that came with your trays. Once you see green breaking the soil, remove the covers.

Watering and fertilizing Use a spray bottle to mist your seedlings as they grow.  A small watering can works too. The goal is to keep the soil moist but not soggy as you don’t want your seedlings to rot.  Most seedling soil mixes do not contain nutrients, so plan to use a liquid fertilizer every 7-10 days.

Providing light Seedlings need plenty of sunlight to grow. Place your trays near a south facing window if possible. Rotate your trays every few days to help keep your seedlings from grow at an angle as they reach for the sun.  Grow lights are inexpensive, and are a wonderful alternative to sunlight. If you use grow lights consider setting the on a timer to run 12-15 hrs per day. Do not use them 24 hrs as the seedlings need a rest period.  Place the lights juts a few inches above your seedling, and raise the lights as your seedlings grow.

Transplant your seedlings outdoors You will need to transition your seedlings from the protected indoor environment to the outdoors. About a week before your plan to plant your seedlings in your garden place them outdoors but in an area where they are protected from winds and rains, and direct afternoon sun. Bring them indoors each night.  Each day you might allow them to be exposed to a little more wind and sun light. When you plant your seedlings into your garden, be sure you have a loose soil, rich in nutrients, and water your plants in immediately upon planting.

Here is a time line for starting your seed indoors and when to transplant them into your garden


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