As the Spring months approach, it's important to start planning and preparing for the upcoming growing season. One crucial step in this process is starting seeds indoors, which can give your plants a head start and increase the chances of a successful harvest. In this article, we'll go over the basics of starting seeds indoors, including when to start, what seeds to choose, and how to care for them.
WHEN TO START SEEDS INDOORS
The best time to start seeds indoors depends on the specific plants you're growing. For most vegetable crops, it's recommended to start seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. In Spokane, Washington (Zone 6b), the last frost date is typically between April 15th and early May, so you should aim to start your seeds around mid-February.
Different crops do have unique germination times and can take longer or shorter to mature indoors, so make sure to read the back of your seed packets for more information. For perennials, the timing may vary (and they may require cold stratification), so it's best to check the seed packet or consult with a local nursery for specific guidance.
WHAT SEEDS TO CHOOSE
When choosing seeds to start indoors, it's important to select varieties that are well-suited for your growing zone. Take into account the length of the growing season in your area. In Spokane, the growing season is about 180 days. Some crops will require a longer season than you can accommodate for, so take this into account when selecting seeds. Most seed packets will have this information listed on the packaging.
Additionally, consider the amount of light and space you have available when selecting seeds, as some plants require more to grow than others. Some good options for vegetable crops to start indoors include tomato, pepper, and eggplant. For perennials, consider starting seeds of columbine, rudbeckia, and lupine, all of which have native varieties available to sow.
Some local retailers in the Spokane area we recommend to source seeds from are: Northwest Seed & Pet, Ritters Garden & Gift, and The Plant Farm.
SOIL IS KEY TO SEED GERMINATION
When starting seeds indoors, it's important to use a soil mix that is specifically formulated for seed germination. These mixes are typically made with peat moss or coconut coir, which provide good water retention and drainage, as well as perlite or vermiculite, which improve aeration and drainage. Additionally, a seed starting mix should also be sterile to prevent any disease or pests from infecting the seedlings. It is unnecessary for seed starting mix to have nutrient additives or fertilizers, as the seeds will shortly be transplanted into soil that will feed them for a longer period of time.