Fashion & Beauty | April 25, 2015

Starting Vegetables Indoors

Let’s face it, supermarket vegetables aren’t cheap and many are sprayed with chemicals or grown using pesticides. Starting your own indoor garden from seed is a great alternative plus you’ll gain six weeks over waiting to plant outside! It’s fun for the family, healthier, space friendly and cost affective! So get a jump start your fresh vegetable garden indoors and let the healthy eating begin!

 

First you’ll need to know vegetables can be picky. Some do not enjoy the indoors as much as others. Root crops like carrots, turnips, beets and parsnips are cold hardy and can be directly planted from seed outdoors fairly early in the season. Growing indoors is not necessary. Beans, corn, and peas don’t fare as well when transplanted so stick to growing these outdoors as well.

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There are however, several vegetables that are perfect to start inside! These veggies handle root disturbance well and truly benefit from a jump start on the season. Plus, providing these plants with close to perfect growing conditions, (regulated temperatures, fertility and moisture) will make it easier for them to grow well!

 

Good Growers

  • Tomatoes: Once the seedlings are 1” tall transplant to 3-4 inch pots. Tomatoes need warmer temps to grow indoors.
  • Radishes: Grow well in boxes and shallow pans because they don’t root deeply. Seeds can be grown from late winter until mid-autumn.
  • Lettuce: Start indoors 6 weeks before the ground can be worked.  Lettuce can survive cooler indoor temperatures.
  • Peppers: Start seed about ¼ inch deep in a flat or pot. Keep in warm 75 degrees location.
  • Eggplant: Must be planted indoors 8 weeks before the plants can grow outside. Seedlings require warm moist soil and sunshine. Soak seeds in warm water 24 hours before sowing.
  • Broccoli: Start the seeds indoors 2 weeks before the date of the last expected frost.
  • Lettuce: Start indoors 6 weeks before the ground thaws. Lettuce can survive cooler indoor temperatures.
  • Onion: Harvest scallions 2 months after planting seeds indoors. Onions take 3-5 months.
  • Cabbage: Start indoor 5-8 weeks before the last expected frost. Cabbage can survive cooler temperatures.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Grow indoors for an early harvest. A second crop can later be grown outdoors. Germination takes about ten days.
  • Cauliflower: Start seeds 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. Plant in individual pots,  3-4 seeds per pot. Once seedling surfaces, keep pot in a sunny, cool spot.
  • Cucumber: Start in pots 2-3 weeks before the last expected frost. Seedlings will be ready to be transplanted outdoors in three or four weeks.

The best time to start your indoor seeds is approximately 2-3 months before your average date of final frost. Depending on where you live, that could be the end of March, if so start sowing your seeds in February. If your final frost is in April or May, start planting as late as the first of March. Now that the vegetable selection has been made and you’ve figured out the best time in your region for sowing, let’s plant your indoor produce!

What you need

  1. Light – You will need a sunny window or grow light
  2. Potting Mix –Loose texture, a good blend of soil vermiculite or perlite and sphagnum peat moss.
  3. Soluble fertilizer - Made up of easy dissolvable components in water. Allowing nutrients can get to the plant easily and quickly.
  4. Clear plastic wrap or kitchen bag
  5. Popsicle sticks
  6. Permanent marker or pen
  7. Containers - plastic tray, peat pots, milk carton, etc. Just be sure there are holes in the bottom for water to drain. (Keep containers about 2-3 inches wide and 2-3 inches deep).
  8. Tray – to set the plants in to hold run off water.

To plant

  1. Fill each container with fresh potting soil. Fill about ¾ of the way up.
  2. Plant each seed and cover with dirt. Follow instruction on seed packets for specifics.
  3. Place the container where the plant can get at least 5 to 6 hours of light a day or sit under a grow light.
  4. Water regularly twice a day and keep moist. Keep a tray under the plants to catch extra water.
  5. Add fertilizer every 2 weeks to keep soil nutrient rich for best growth and healthy vegetables.
  6. Use a Popsicle stick and marker to write the type of vegetable and date planted.
  7. Place plant pot inside a plastic bag and tie closed or cover tray with plastic wrap. Be sure the plastic stays off the soil. You won’t water again until the seedling sprouts.
  8. Place pots on the top of a refrigerator, once seeds sprout remove plastic and move to window sill.
  9. Seedlings appear 10 days to 2 weeks but can take up to 3 weeks.  If your seeds never appear, simply replant your container. Try adding more warmth and more light.

 

Once the seeds have sprouted, move them to a sunny window. If you don't have one you can invest in lighting. Spot grow bulbs such as the Hagen Exo Terra Swamp Glo Splash, or Lite Source LS-1695 use small amounts of electricity. A variety of grow lights can be found at most home improvement stores.

 

After 6-8 weeks, it’s time to harden off plants. This process will get them acclimated to the outdoors slowly, giving them the best chance at survival. Since growing only indoors, they are not prepared for the harsh real sunlight.

Begin by setting them outside in a shady area with indirect sunlight for a few days. Be sure to bring all plants in on nights with a freeze advisory. For plants that call for part shade on the growing directions, leave them in this protected shady area for several more days. For plants that like full sun, after the initial few days in the shade, place them in a sunny location for one hour.  Follow this pattern by increasing the number of hours in full sun each day. This process will harden them for the season.  By the end of the second week your plants will be wind blown, sun soaked and ready to move into their new home.

 

Before you transplant, water the pots well. Make sure the new location has warm, somewhat moist soil. Try not to disturb the delicate new roots as much as possible. Transplant your plants late in the afternoon on a day with little wind. Add snail bait to keep your new plants from being eaten. Lastly, water for 4-5 days to help them recover from the shock and grow quicker.

 

Indoor gardening allows you to start out with a packet of tiny seeds and end up with beautiful, chemical and pesticide free produce. It’s a great family activity that saves you money, keeps your meals natural and your family healthier! Happy planting!

Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt

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