Overhead view of plant starts in containers
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Tips for Better Indoor Starts

Late February marks the beginning of the sowing for spring and summer. Here are a few handy tips to get your seedlings off to a better start. Most of the crops you sow now will not be planted out until April, May or June, so it’s important to give them a good indoor start, and plan ahead to take good care of them.

The advantage of starting plants indoors in February and March is that many of them take longer to mature than is possible in the cooler summers of the Maritime Northwest. Direct sowing would result in a low harvest. It’s also a way to save some money you’d spend on plant starts while having fun watching life transform before your eyes!

To manage this juggling act, consider these four points:

  • Provide supplemental light. Relying only on our diffuse natural sunlight would result in poor seedling growth.
  • Consider adding bottom heat. Most seeds germinate in the 60 to 72 degree F. range, and bottom heat will warm the soil.
  • Plan extra space for potted up plants. Most seedlings will need to be potted up to larger pots from the six-packs or flats where they begin life and that will take a lot more space.
  • Know when to plant out. Half-hardy plants like broccoli or leeks can be planted out in April, but tender plants like tomatoes and peppers cannot survive the cool nights, so they must be kept indoors until May or June unless you are providing cloche protection for them.

Remember to sanitize and clean all trays and pots if you are reusing them. Wash items in a mix of one gallon of water and one teaspoon of bleach.