One way to get a jump-start on a garden each year is to plant the seeds inside and use a grow light to help them germinate and grow. Seeds can be planted indoors as early as February or March. When they are given water, light and lots of tenderly loving attention, they can be ready to plant as soon as the last frost has passed somewhere around the middle of May. This early planting of seeds gives the garden more mature plants at an earlier time and allows the plants to produce an earlier and more bountiful harvest.
The first step is to set up a grow light that will give the seeds adequate light and warmth to germinate. A grow light system can be purchased from many garden supply stores or from garden stores online. It is also possible to create a functional grow light system from supplies that are purchased inexpensively from a local home improvement store. A standard shop light works very well. To create the right light and heat for germinating seeds, it is necessary to purchase two different types of fluorescent bulbs. One bulb must have a warm spectrum of light and the other bulb must have a cool spectrum of light. The last thing to purchase is some hooks and chains to hang the grow light above the newly planted seeds.
The next step is to purchase the best type of seeds to plant and grow indoors. Some of these seeds are beans, onions, pumpkins and peas. These types of seeds sprout without much trouble and are easily transplanted to the garden. Herbs are also great seeds to start indoors as they also transplant without much trouble. Some types of vegetables are a little more difficult to grow from seed. They also don’t survive the transplanting process as well. Vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers seem to be better when they are bought as an already established plant from a garden center. Once the seeds have been determined and purchase, it is now time to set up a planting system.
One way to start the seeds is to put potting soil in individual small pots and plant a few seeds in each pot. Peat pots are another simple method for planting the seeds. Peat pots start as small disks. When they are watered, they expand to tiny pots of soil held together by biodegradable netting. They come in a convenient tray that holds 24 to 48 peat pots. Planting three seeds in each pot guarantees that at least one of the seeds will germinate and grow into a healthy plant.
Next, the seeds should be given a thorough soaking with water and placed under the grow light. The light should be hung approximately eight to ten inches above the seeds to give them adequate light and warmth. The grow light can be set on a timer to give the seeds the same amount of sunlight that they would receive if they were growing outdoors. The pots must be checked every day. In order to germinate, the seeds need to be kept moist at all times. It is also important to not over water the seeds.
Now the waiting period begins. Many seeds take at least eight to ten days to germinate. Sometimes only one seed will appear and sometimes all three will germinate at once. If all three seeds germinate, it is important to clip off the extra seedlings with a pair of scissors. This allows the seedling to have adequate room to grow. Once the seeds have germinated, the seedlings will grow quickly into small plants. They may need to be transplanted to larger pots before it is time to transplant them into the garden. Once the warm spring weather arrives, the plants will be ready to transplant and grow to their full potential in the outdoors.