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Starting Garden Seeds Indoors

Updated on August 22, 2014

How To Start Garden Seeds Indoors

At some point in the winter we begin to dream about spring. We think about the garden we will grow, with all the lovely flowers or tasty vegetables. Even before the frost free date, when it's still too early to plant warm weather crops outside, we can get starting with our gardens by planting seeds indoors.

On this page I'll provide you with some tips on starting your seeds inside, a list of common vegetables that work well when started inside, charts on when to start seeds inside, and also show you some books and equipment (such as a Grow Light) which may be helpful to you in starting your seeds inside!

Vegetables Photo by: hotblack

Why Start Seeds Inside?

Growing vegetables from seeds is much cheaper than buying small transplants.

Starting seeds in pots inside gives slower growing plants a headstart on the growing season! It also allows flowers to bloom a little early than they would otherwise!

The New Seed Starter's Handbook - Why start plants from seed?

In this new version of The Seed-Starter's Handbook, Bubel provides us with information on starting seeds indoors, moving plants outdoors, and saving seeds.

The New Seed Starters Handbook (Rodale Organic Gardening)
The New Seed Starters Handbook (Rodale Organic Gardening)

The book also offers a nice "encyclopedia of plants to grow from seed" along with the characteristics of dozens of vegetables, flowers, and herbs.


Although some seeds do fine when planted outside, there are a few that do much better when given a headstart inside! These include:

photo by raymortim

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Eggplant
  • Onion
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Celery

How To Start Seeds Inside

1. Fill trays or pots with potting soil. (Potting soil is better than topsoil for plants that are in pots.)

2. Moisten the soil.

3. The seeds should be planted in the soil at a depth of about 1 1/2 times the size of the seed.

4. Cover with loose soil and press every so gently. You don't want to compact the soil.

5. Keep the seeds moist and warm.

6. After they germinate, move them to a location where they can get some sun or light from a grow light.

7. Continue to keep them watered, but don't allow the plants or seeds to sit in water.

Starting Vegetable Seeds Indoors - How To Start Your Garden Indoors

25-Plant Starter Kit - Jiffy Professional Greenhouse

This Seed Starter Kit can be used inside or in a greenhouse. Grow the plants right in the tray! You can cover them with the clear lid to help keep the moisture and heat in!

Jiffy 42mm Professional Greenhouse 25-Plant Starter Kit
Jiffy 42mm Professional Greenhouse 25-Plant Starter Kit

Starting with Jiffy pellets makes transplanting your plants into the garden later easy! You just plant the whole thing in the ground!


Windowsill Greenhouse 24-Plant Starter Kit - Jiffy Seed Starter Kit

This windowsill greenhouse comes with a tray and pellets. The pellets expand when exposed to water. You'll plant your seeds in these expanded pellets.

A Few Tips For Starting Seeds Inside

  1. Don't forget to label your pots if you plant more than one type of seed!
  2. The larger the plants will be when they are full size, the larger the flat you should use for germinating the seeds.
  3. Instead of topsoil or garden soil, use potting soil for your seeds.
  4. Use room temperature water on your seeds and young plants. Colder water from the hose or faucet may chill the roots of your plants and slow their growth.

Hydrofarm Germination Station with Heat Mat - Seed Germination Station gives warmth to the planting bed, while controlling the humidity

This germination station has electric heat, a humidity control and 72-cell seedling inserts. The humidity dome on the germination station has dual vent points for optimal airflow. Seed starting booster, and instructions with growing tips are included.

Jump Start,CK64050 Germination Station w/UL Listed Heat Mat, Tray, 72-Cell Pack, and 2" Dome
Jump Start,CK64050 Germination Station w/UL Listed Heat Mat, Tray, 72-Cell Pack, and 2" Dome

The heating pad under the tray provides gentle warmth to encourage your seeds to germinate!


Jiffy Pots - Jiffy Pots are great for starting seeds indoors!

These jiffy pots are made with Canadian sphagnum peat moss. Comes with 10 in a pack.

This is a light system to assist in starting seeds, propagating cuttings, and growing plants indoors.

Jump Start 4' T5 Grow Light System (Stand, Fixture & Tube)
Jump Start 4' T5 Grow Light System (Stand, Fixture & Tube)

Did you know you can adjust the height of the light?


This is a small greenhouse with 4 shelves. It's great for seed propagation, as well as growing and displaying houseplants! The plastic cover has a full length roll up zipper to help hold the heat in.

Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse, 27" Long x 18" Wide x 63" High
Gardman R687 4-Tier Mini Greenhouse, 27" Long x 18" Wide x 63" High

This Mini Greenhouse can be placed on a deck, a patio, a balcony, or just about anywhere else!


photo by kakisky

Grow Your Own Herbs For Cooking - Assortment of 12 Culinary Herb Seeds

Create a beautiful and edible herb garden!

Italian Parsley, Thyme, Cilantro, Sweet Marjoram, Sweet Basil, Dill, Oregano, Sage, Mustard, Garlic Chives, Chives, and Summer Savory!

Gardening Books - Information on Gardening

The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers: Based on the New York Times Column "Garden Q & A."
The New York Times 1000 Gardening Questions and Answers: Based on the New York Times Column "Garden Q & A."

This book is based on the The New York Times Gardeners Q&A column, where answers are given to gardening questions sent in by people across the United States. The most helpful ones are provided in this book! Chances are, your questions are answered in this book too! The book includes hundreds of drawings to illustrate gardening techniques, etc.

Trowel and Error: Over 700 Organic Remedies, Shortcuts, and Tips for the Gardener
Trowel and Error: Over 700 Organic Remedies, Shortcuts, and Tips for the Gardener

Looking for gardening tips, remedies, and short-cuts? Then this is the book for you! For example, did you know that you can discourage rabbits by sprinkling baby powder over your seedlings? Or that you can use spoiled milk to help a plant get over a virus? Do you know how to make a natural insecticide out of basil? Much of what you'll need are everyday things like vinegar, garlic, and cornmeal!

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, 2nd Edition: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions: Wide Rows, Organic Methods, Raised Beds, Deep Soil
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, 2nd Edition: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions: Wide Rows, Organic Methods, Raised Beds, Deep Soil

This book is great for those who vegetable gardening! Included is information about planning your beds, (including raised ones), preparing your soil, planting your seeds, maintaining and harvesting your garden, garden pests, and information about particular vegetables!

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season
The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season

Want some guidance on the right time to carry out various garden tasks?

Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space
Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space

If you don't have a lot of space to garden, consider vertical gardening!


How To Start Garden Seeds Inside

© 2012 - 2014 Janiece Tobey. All rights reserved.

This gardening webpage was created on 1/4/12.

Page last updated 8/22/14.

Starting Garden Seeds Inside: Reader Reviews - If you've used the Grow Light or one of the other products for starting seeds inside, please let us know how it w

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a great lens. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      5 years ago

      I am definitely going to be starting some seeds inside this year, thanks for the thorough lens to help me do this. Pinned to my board "how does your garden grow."

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Want to build some raised flower beds and grow some veggies this spring. Might need to start doing this. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      A very nice lens. I have no space to start seeds indoors but wish I did.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      Excellent and informative lens, as an old gardener I appreciate the need to get those seeds in as early as possible. Lots of tips here for those new or not-so-new to growing your own.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      The mini greenhouse looks like a wonderful gift for my mom in the mainland. I think she would really enjoy that!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      The pictures of those luscious-looking home-grown tomatoes makes me long for Spring already. Starting those tomato seeds indoors sounds like a wonderful idea. :)

    • traveller27 profile image


      6 years ago

      This is something I'm interested in doing. Maybe this will be the year!

    • malenacaty profile image


      6 years ago

      I plant indoor 2 years now and it is great.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Gee 

      6 years ago

      With plants and water costing so much in today's world, it pays to start seedings indoors. I like to pinch my begonia's and root them in water to save money on bedding plants. Wrote about it here on Squidoo.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      It is about that time of year again. I started trying to deweed our poor garden plot this week and am doing a small amount each day. I didn't plant last year because I had some health issues but I can hardly wait to get seedlings into our garden this year.

    • jstarley profile image


      6 years ago

      I'm currently in the process of starting my seeds indoors. The most important thing I've picked up along the way is to be patient! Just because your seeds are sprouting does not mean it's time to plant them outside. There is an adjustment period of putting your seedlings outside during the day to toughen them up and them keeping them outside overnight and making sure they're strong and ready. Far too often I've jumped the gun in the past, only to be disappointed. Great lens!

    • Frischy profile image


      6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I have not started seeds indoors. I was going to do it this year, but this is not the year. I usually sow lettuce and peas directly into the ground and they do fine. Otherwise, I use sets or volunteers. I would save a lot of money by starting my own seeds.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good stuff! I haven't been able to plant a veggie garden in over a year & I miss it so much. Blessed by a squid angel!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I've never used it, but I really like your lens, and it gives me something to think about. Plants in my house don't do well because of placement of the house, and awnings to keep the sun from beating into the house. We live in Vegas where it's very dry, and difficult to grow things unless you're out in the heat a lot, which I can't be. These are some good ideas for a way to grow some veggies. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I have that Seed Starters Handbook right here on my bookshelf and used it a lot when I was growing almost all my own food and a bunch for the farmers market. It was a great reference. I didn't start a LOT of my own plants--didn't really have the space for it--but I had really good luck with those I did. It was so much fun waking up to find those little sprouts popping up.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great selection of so many variety things indoors, my mom does some of these things sometimes and it was good to read this.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      7 years ago

      Some good seed-starting tips here. I'm eager to start my veggie seeds, but it's not quite time yet in my area.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i love planting also. nice lens. thanks for your tips.

    • nyclittleitaly profile image


      7 years ago

      great lens

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love the Tiered Greenhouse. This is a wonderful resource for our Pendleton Elementary School Memory Garden and I will be sharing it with them. Thanks.


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