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Starting Your Budget Friendly Summer Veggie Garden Indoors This Spring

Updated on March 23, 2013

Starting Your Seedlings in Your Apartment!

Planted seedling flat.
Planted seedling flat. | Source

I find myself looking forward to spring and warmer weather a bit too soon, only to be disappointed by more snow and winter gloominess. On a brighter note, it is just about the right time to start planting your vegetable seeds inside in preparation for your summer veggie garden! Starting your seedlings inside can give your vegetables a jump start and increase the chances of having a bountiful summer harvest. Sturdy seedlings are more likely to withstand those chilly spring temperatures once they are transferred outside. Even in the snow, you can have a little bit of spring to look forward to right here in my apartment.

A Good Place to Start

Many people use seed catalogs as early as Christmas to start deciding which types of vegetables they want to grow this year. Another option is saving seeds from produce either bought from the grocery store, or saved from last year's garden. I, unfortunately, am not that ambitious. I found myself, instead, choosing seeds based on the stock in the local garden centers of Wal-mart and Lowe’s. I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of seeds they offered, as well as the home starter kits they had in stock. Using my plan of attack it is important to start early. In past years I have found that seeds go fast! Here are some of the products I found.

Seeds, Planters, and Soil Oh My

Ferry Morse Large Organic Vegetable Garden
Ferry Morse Large Organic Vegetable Garden

Buying seeds online in bulk can be more budget friendly. Finding a friend and splitting seeds can also help to make starting a garden more affordable. Organic seeds, in general, are a bit pricier, but some people don't mind the extra cost for the extra health benefits.

Burpee 64527 Pepper, Sweet California Wonder Seed Packet
Burpee 64527 Pepper, Sweet California Wonder Seed Packet

Burpee brand seed packets have useful information on the front including the proper amount of sun exposure for each seed type, days to maturity, and whether that particular veggie will grow well in a pot or plater.

Jiffy T72H  Seed Starter Greenhouse 72
Jiffy T72H Seed Starter Greenhouse 72

This 72 cell seed tray comes with a base tray to prevent water from leaking out during watering and a clear plastic cover to simulate the environment in a green house.


K-cup Seedling Starters

K-cups can be a great, budget friendly place to start your seedlings!
K-cups can be a great, budget friendly place to start your seedlings! | Source

More Creative Seedling Flats!

Here are more creative ideas that a friend came up with for starter flats.
Here are more creative ideas that a friend came up with for starter flats. | Source

Materials you will need

  • Seeds - any type of vegetable you like. I recommend starting your tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers and pepper inside. Other vegetables, such as root veggies, may not transplant into an outdoor garden or another pot as easily.

  • A container to start your seedlings in - I used the 72 cell planter referenced from amazon above, but you can use anything! Ideas include old gallon milk containers, old milk/creamer cartons, old water bottles, old empty yogurt containers, old take-out containers, egg cartons, or even used K-cups! The to go containers even have lids, which helps to hold the humidity in!
  • Starter soil - any seed starting potting mix will do!
  • Water - I recommend luke warm water, as seeds germinate faster in warmer, more humid temperatures
  • Clear plastic wrap

Starting Your Seeds

Once you have purchased your seeds, it is important to find an estimate of when the last frost will be in your area. Most resources say to start your seedlings 6-8 weeks prior to the last winter frost in your region.

Now that you have all of your supplies and have figured out the right time to start, it is time to set up your flats!

There are a number of things that can be used to plant your seeds in. Personally this year, I used a 72 cell plastic flat with a clear plastic lid that I found at Walmart for less than $5. Friends this year were more creative and thrifty and used old take out containers, milk cartons, gallon water jugs and even left over keurig K-cups.

Fill the desired container with your potting soil and moisten the soil thoroughly with lukewarm water. Next, create shallow indentations to place your seeds in using the butt end of an old pen or pencil. Place 2-3 seeds in each indentation and then cover with soil and pack the soil overlying the seeds lightly. I kept the part of the seed package with the name of each veggie and taped it below the row of potted seeds containing that vegetable. Most seedlings look alike and it can be difficult to remember what you planted where! Other options include popsicle sticks with the name of each vegetable on them or, plastic plant markers. Place plastic wrap over the top of your flat to keep the moisture and humidity in. Once your seeds sprout, remove the plastic wrap and place the flat in direct full sunlight.

Don't Want to Grow Your Own?

Other budget friendly options to get fresh, healthy, locally grown vegetables include farmer's markets and co-ops. Pick your own farms also can be a fun, budget friendly way of having fruit and vegetables for the summer. Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA's are an additional option. In CSA's, community farmers offer local residents "share's" of their farm for a flat rate fee. Each week the local resident then gets a portion of the ripe seasonal harvest that week.

So What is the Next Step?

Stay tuned for more information about transitioning your plants to larger pots and ouside into your outdoor garden!

What are you planting in your garden this year?

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What are your favorite garden fresh vegetables?

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    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 4 years ago from Miller Lake

      Thanks for sharing the great gardening info something I need to try and work on in future is my green thumb; I can't believe it is spring already take care!