Get a jump start on the growing season by starting vegetable seeds indoors.
Step 1: Choose which seeds you want to start indoors by reading the back of the seed packets. Leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach are perfect early-season crops. Some vegetable and flower seeds need to be sown directly into the soil, so be sure to read the packet first.
Step 2: Gather containers to start your seeds in. Flat trays work best, but egg cartons, flowerpots or empty food containers also work great. If you are reusing containers from previous years, wash the containers with a 10 percent bleach and water solution.
Step 3: Seeds can be germinated in any all-purpose potting soil. Seed-starting soils or soils amended with sand or vermiculite, peat moss and compost material will improve root growth and lessen chances of disease. Soil from the garden can also be used, but sterilize it first by baking the soil at 170 to 180 degrees for about two hours.
Step 4: Fill the containers three-fourths of the way with soil. If it is convenient, pre-moisten the soil before filling the containers; otherwise, lightly mist soil-filled containers before sowing the seeds into them.
Step 5: Sow your seed into the soil-filled containers. If using individual containers, sow two to three seeds per container.
Step 6: Following the seed packet directions, cover the seeds with soil or vermiculite. Typically seeds need to planted at a depth four times their diameter, but some seeds do not need to be buried at all, so read the directions carefully. Cover the seeds accordingly and lightly mist again.
Step 7: Cover the containers with plastic to keep moisture in and place them in a warm area. Seeds need a constant temperature above 65 degrees to germinate. Placing the containers on a heating pad or under fluorescent lighting will help encourage germination.
Step 8: Once the seeds have germinated, remove the container covers and move the seedlings to a warm spot where there is bright light. Keep the soil moist by sprinkling or misting with warm water. Do not overwater. Turn the containers regularly to keep the seedlings growing at a balanced rate and thin as needed to allow for proper growth.
As the weather warms take the seedlings outside for a few hours each day to acclimate them before permanently moving them outdoors.