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Outdoors,  Projects

Starting Seeds Indoors – The Beginning

One of my current projects is starting seeds indoors.  In this post, and in future weeks, I’ll share my experiences and let’s hope I have success!!

Last Year’s Experience

Last year, I knew I wanted a couple of plants that would require seeds.  I’m a stickler for waiting until Mother’s Day before I plant anything outside.  There’s too much risk if you go before that, so I prefer to wait.

I planted Morning Glory and Four O’Clock in pots.  I could plant them in the ground but with our new landscaping, it didn’t make sense.  And if I didn’t plant them in the rocked area, I’d have to do something that wouldn’t interfere with the mowing.  Just too much trouble.

I planted the seeds in May and they sprouted well.  I may have overplanted both of them and I didn’t thin them out, which was probably a mistake.  But I wanted to make sure I had good, thick plants.  Bad logic?

We put a trellis in the Morning Glory pot and I couldn’t wait for the little sprouts to start growing up and winding around it.  They finally did and it really took off.  I mean, it really took off.  It grew like crazy and eventually, the top became overloaded.  Once the branches reached the top, they started growing down again.  Strong winds blew it over one night, even though the pot was big and heavy.  The trellis was just too top heavy.  I had to tie it to the deck to ensure that didn’t happen again.

And while it grew like crazy, there were no flowers.  What’s the point of lush foliage if you don’t have the pretty flowers?

Finally, in late August, we started getting flowers.  But even those were sparse and all at the top.

morning glory bloom
Single Bloom

The Four O’Clocks grew well and eventually bloomed, but not as early as I would have liked and the plants were leggy and didn’t produce as many blooms as I was expecting.

So, I decided right then that this year, I would be starting seeds indoors ahead of time so by May, I’d already have decent sized plants.

What I needed to get started

I’d read a few things about what you needed to do this.  In late February, we bought a plastic container that holds 36 seedlings and has a dome for capturing humidity.  I also learned that you need a “soil-less” mixture and not potting soil for starting seeds.  So, we bought a bag of that too.

I knew I wanted a way to identify each type of seed or I’d get them all mixed up.  I made my own labels with toothpicks and paper.  They looked great when I first put them in, but moisture quickly made its way up the toothpick and the paper is now soaked and the names of the plants are all runny looking.  Oh well.  I have another year to come up with a better approach!!  Any ideas you can share???

Choosing the types of seeds to plant

I knew I wanted Morning Glory again and I knew it was fairly easy to start Basil indoors.  I also love Zinnias which I’ve grown from seed before, but only outside.  The last couple of years, I’ve been buying Zinnias in pots and thought maybe I could do just as well myself.

I decided to forego the Four O’Clocks, but just in case, I salvaged some of the seeds from last year’s plants and could actually plant them yet this year.  We’ll see.  It’s easy to go a little crazy and then it just means more to have to water every day!!

I bought three different kinds of Zinnia seeds and Tim mentioned he’d like some Marigolds.  I am not much of a Marigold fan, but I relented.  He can have his own pot to take care of!!

When looking at all the different options, we also found something called Cat Grass.  The seed packet says it “adds a snappy, dramatic touch to your decor inside or out and entertains your feline friends as well”.  Who wouldn’t want that?  We picked the variegated kind and don’t really know what we’ll do with it yet.  It looks like it can be planted with other flowers to add contrast or planted alone.  Maybe we’ll even keep some inside, so my BFFs can enjoy it!!

chosen seeds for starting inside
Seeds I Chose to Start Inside

Planting the seeds

Two of the seeds – Morning Glory and Cat Grass – required presoaking.  I soaked them overnight and then planted everything the next day.  I followed the directions on both the seed starter package and the individual seed packets.  I planted the seeds and put in my labels.  It hardly took any time.

seed name tags
Name Tags for the Seeds
seeds name tags
Seeds with Name Tags

Where to put the seeds?

I would have liked to put the little pots on a table by a southern facing window, in a location I could easily observe.  However, any place I put it upstairs would be too accessible to the cats.  They can play with the cat grass when it’s fully grown, but they can’t disturb my sprouts!!

We have a southern facing window with a nice ledge in our spare bedroom downstairs.  And it’s high enough that we know Brutus can’t get to it and I can’t see Mickey jumping up there either.  It did mean Tim had to move all of his running medals.  Thanks, Tim, for helping me out.

Now, we just needed to see the sun.  Too many cloudy days.

seeds window ledge
Window Ledge for Sun

Sprouting

I knew it would be at least 2-3 days before anything was supposed to sprout, so I didn’t check them right away.  Tim finally noticed some were sprouting, so I went down to see for myself.  Yes, we have some sprouts!!

But I also noticed some I thought should be sprouting weren’t, and it seemed kind of chilly on that ledge.  Also, the dome didn’t seem to have much condensation, indicating low humidity.   It’s downstairs, which is always cooler and since it hasn’t been super sunny lately, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I immediately checked Amazon (what else) and found a heat mat for seedlings.  I ordered it on Saturday and got it on Monday.  (Thank you Prime.)  I put the heat mat in place and soon after, the condensation was forming!!  Yippee!!

seeds heat map
Seeds with Heat Mat

Not every section is sprouting, but every type of plant has some sprouts.  They look a little weak so far, but hopefully, they’ll toughen up as they grow.

sprouting seeds
Seeds starting to sprout
sprouting seeds
Sprouting Seeds

What’s next?

I read today that once the seeds begin to sprout, you should remove the dome.  So, I did that.

I’m a little concerned that my “soil” might be too wet, but maybe leaving the dome off will allow it to dry out.  I’ll watch it carefully.

I also recently read that once they start growing, you should plant them in larger pots, still before you take them outside.  We bought some of those pots this week so I’m ready when the plants are.

Do you have experience starting seeds indoors?  What have you learned that would help me?

I’ll post an update in a couple of weeks.  I hope I have good news to share!!

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