How to Grow Seeds Indoors Without Soil. Growing plants from seeds gives you a much larger variety to choose from than the seedlings in the local nursery. However, in many cases seeds need to be started indoors because the weather is too cold to plant outside. Many types of seeds need to be started 9 or 10 weeks before the last frost so they have...
Growing plants from seeds gives you a much larger variety to choose from than the seedlings in the local nursery. However, in many cases seeds need to be started indoors because the weather is too cold to plant outside. Many types of seeds need to be started 9 or 10 weeks before the last frost so they have enough time to reach maturity before the growing season ends. While it is a large time investment, it's easy to grow seeds indoors with a soil-free starter mix.
Seed-starting mixes are finely textured and shouldn't contain the heavy, coarse particles of soil. In a 5-gallon bucket, mix 1 part sphagnum peat moss, 1 part sifted compost and 1 part vermiculite. If available, add 2 cups of worm castings. Use coir as a peat substitute on a 1-to-1 basis if you need to increase the water retention or pH. Sterilize your mix to decrease problems with fungus by putting moist potting mix into the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
Planting seeds in separate containers helps to make the transplant process easier, but planting in a flat tray saves space when starting a lot of seeds. Fill your container to 3/4 inch from the top with your soil-free starter mix and moisten. If planting together in a tray, sow the seeds in rows 1 to 2 inches apart.. Larger seeds, like melon seeds, should be planted in separate containers to avoid root damage when transplanting. Cover the seeds with your starter mix to a depth of 2 times the diameter of the seed being sown, then cover the tray with a lid.
Keep the seeds between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit until they germinate and a seedling breaks the surface of the starter mix, then remove the lid. The new seedlings need 14 to 16 hours of light and consistently moist starter mix to grow well. Thin seedlings to one plant per container or one plant every inch in a tray. When the second set of leaves appears, apply half-strength, all-purpose fertilizer for several days, and then apply full strength fertilizer every two weeks until it is time to transplant.
When the outdoors temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, begin the transition from indoors to outdoors by placing the seedlings outdoors for just a few hours a day, reducing watering and fertilizing at the same time to harden stems without letting the plants wilt. Gradually increase the time the plants spend outdoors for two weeks, when they are finally ready to be transplanted into the garden.
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