Start Seeds Indoors: Fun For Little Fingers

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 7:00am

Early spring is a good time to start seeds indoors for some vegetables and flowers, and it’s a great project to do with the kids. Here are some quick tips for what to plant and how to do it.

Why start seeds indoors?

  • Fun project with the kids – it’s a fun science experiment to learn how things grow and get them interested in eating more vegetables
  • Extend the growing season – an early start to seeds means earlier harvest of tasty veggies
  • Save money – $1.29 for 50-100 seeds vs. say $3.00 for a 4-pack of plants
  • Grow interesting or even whacky varieties that you can’t find to buy as plants — purple beans, anyone?

What you need

  • 30-60 minutes – my kids were quite curious and particular about how they wanted to do this, so it took us about an hour
  • Seed starting kit – I got a kit at Home Depot. They sell similar ones at Target or Amazon. If you’re just starting a few plants/types of seeds, it’s a great choice — comes with tray, lid, and compressed dirt pellets that expand with water. However, if you’re planning to fill a greenhouse, then you’ll want to get trays and bags of sterile soil (germinating mix)
  • Pencil & paper
  • Warm water
  • Sunny inside location
  • And of course, seeds!

What to start from seeds indoors

Those big seed racks can be scary! And reading the fine print on the back of each seed packet to figure out what and how to grow it is no fun. Some seeds don’t work well when transplanted. Some seeds are easier than others to grow. Some things are hard to find as plant. To simplify, here are some suggestions for what’s easy to grow and worth starting indoors:

  • Sunflowers – easy to grow and can’t buy as plants
  • Giant zinnias – large bloom zinnias may be hard to find to buy as plants
  • Tomatoes – highly recommend Moby grape tomatoes (entire classes of preschoolers have been successful with these) and for the grown-ups, try a yellow pear tomato (hard to find as plants)
  • Beans – we’ll sow these directly in the ground outdoors later on as well, but I recommend for the instant gratification
  • Other choices for indoor seed sowing: pepper, eggplant, squash, broccoli, and more

Check out my 7 steps for starting seeds indoors here.

Here’s to hoping for a high success rate. But hey, if all the plants don’t make it, don’t sweat it. It’s about fun and learning, too.

Any tips you’d like to share? mistakes to avoid?

Kathy Bachmann is a Montclair working mother, ice hockey player, back-country skier and avid gardener. She blogs about gardening at Snappy Gardening.

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