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Tips on Starting Seeds Indoors

It's time to set up my little sowing station here at home! Do you want to know more about starting seeds indoors? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.

Starting seeds indoors, plastic troughs and grow light.

Here is my little sowing station where I'm starting seeds indoors. I'm using old plastic boxes as miniature greenhouses on top of a little heat mat.


I'm preparing for the season by starting seeds indoors! I usually start a bit earlier with some of these vegetables, but I wanted to wait a few weeks because of the renovation work here at home. Do you want to learn more about germinating seeds indoors? Keep reading for my four best tips on how to do get started here!


Read more: 10 Vegetables you can grow indoors


What's the point of sowing inside then? Well, we mainly do it with the plants that take a long time to develop. Some vegetables need a few months or so in a pot before we can transplant them outside. Leek, artichoke, pepper and eggplant are a few examples.


My Sowing Station

I have a special little spot for my indoor projects that I call my sowing station. This is my go-to area to germinate the seeds, and then I move my little troughs to other spots. That's actually a great way to get started, since many seeds need an especially warm and cozy environment to germinate. They get a lot less stingy as seedlings though.

My sowing station is very small at the moment. Mainly just four smaller heat mats in my laundry room here at home. I hope to get more space soon when the renovations of the office space in my cottage are done. Then, I'm going to use a large heat mat as well as bigger grow light systems too.


Keep your Seeds Close

The best indoor projects are by far the ones that are easy to access. That you often pass by and can check on at any time. It's easy to forget about the seeds if you keep them in a secluded part of your house, or even a different building. Work and other obligations will most likely keep you from checking on the sowings several times a day. That's why you want to keep them close.

I put my own little sowing station in our laundry room/back hallway. This spot is nice and warm, and I walk past it literally all the time.

As a comparison, I wanted to mention the little cottage I own in the nearby village. I work from here and I keep sowings in the cottage too. It's so difficult! Best case scenario is that I get to go a few times a week, but it just isn't enough. A mouse might have munched on some of my new seedlings while I was gone, the soil could be dry and sometimes my seedlings grow so tall that they touch the grow light. Not optimal at all.


A green mat of seedlings on top of a table.

This is what the spot looks like without the sowings. A simple heat mat, connected to the outlet. This particular heat mat only has one setting, but I can adjust the temperature on one of my other mats. I have a T5 grow light hanging right above the heat mat.


Warm Spot

One of the most important things to think about when starting seeds indoors is to keep the area warm. Most seeds enjoy a soil temperature of 68 degrees (around 20 degrees Celsius.) The only real exception is lettuce, which germinates in cold soil. It can surprisingly even germinate in a fridge during summer. Try it! We don't usually need to worry too much about starting lettuce seeds indoors early, since it takes such a short time to grow. Unless we want to grow and harvest it inside, of course.

I always make sure to have a warm and cozy spot for the germination, and then I move the seedlings to my little nursery where the plants can keep growing. This area is cooler. Around 60 degrees (15 degrees Celsius.)

Of course, I understand that space is always an issue when it comes to starting seeds indoors. My solution is to do it on top of my washing machine and dryer. It's often warm here. A family of six washes a lot of clothes of course!

Just remember that you only need heat to actually wake the seeds up. You should try to move the seedlings to a cooler spot. If you don't, then your plants might grow very leggy.


Read more: Grow pea shoots indoors


Close-up of starting seeds indoors in pots.

I decided to sow peppers and carnations here. The peppers need some heat during the germination process. I don't need to cover my seeds though. All they need is warm soil and a grow light on top to get them to germinate in a matter of days!


Grow Light

The best thing is to keep your sowings under a grow light from the very start. Especially as a beginner. The problem is that the seeds can germinate at an uneven pace. And you don't want to keep your sowings in a warm space without a grow light. Seedlings that grow with heat but no light often grow very tall and gangly. If you on the other hand were to move the sowing to a colder area when only a few seeds germinated, then the germination process might actually stop because it's just too cold. The simple solution is of course to combine light and heat!

Make sure to keep the grow light on for around 12-14 hours a day.


Read more: Store-bought or DIY grow light?


My sowing station is like I mentioned before quite small still. But this works well for me! I would rather sow several times a week (sowings that have time to grow and that I can move later) than get completely overwhelmed with plants everywhere. I might as well spread the sowings out a bit since I'm going to transplant the seedlings later anyway.



Miniature Greenhouse

It's important to keep the sowing damp to succeed with starting seeds indoors. Dry soil is in my opinion one of the most common issues for beginners. The seeds can get destroyed without us even knowing it! A small pot on a heat mat will for example dry out incredibly fast.

That's why you might want to put your sowings in a miniature greenhouse. You could also put a see-through lid on top of the pot, to keep the soil damp. A plastic film works great too. Just make sure that the area isn't completely air tight.

You can usually find more information about the seeds and how long they take to germinate on the back of the seed packet. If you can't find the information there, you can always search for your variety and germination time online.

Of course, the seeds might not like any of your efforts. Sometimes, that just happens. But don't worry about it! Try a new sowing and do things just a little bit differently this time. Change the soil, or sow in a different type of trough or pot. Use more or less water. And remember that it can be difficult to germinate seeds indoors in winter. Plenty of things can after all go wrong. The margins can be very small and it sometimes doesn't take much at all. Maybe you forget to check on your sowings, or your seeds rot because it's too hot and wet. Or something similar. It happens to us all. Just keep on trying!


Read more: How to do gardening in the snow


Starting Seeds Indoors: Summary

  • keep the sowings in a spot you often pass by
  • most seeds germinate in warm soil, around 68 degrees or more (20+ degrees Celsius), but check the back of the seed packet for more information
  • use a grow light for your sowings, don't leave them in the dark
  • keep your sowing damp but make sure that the soil isn't wet


Little green plants under a grow light.

I'm moving the little seedlings to a different spot after germination. This area is cooler, with stronger grow lights too.


This method of moving the plants to a different area works really well. I find that the plants grow both larger and healthier if they get to grow in a cool spot after germination.


More: Growing leafy greens indoors


Do you feel like you're babying your sowings and seedlings? Don't worry about it! It's completely normal to be a bit overprotective. This actually helps you understand your plants better and gives you all the possibilities in the world to give them exactly what they need. Some of them might want more or less heat. Maybe it's too bright, or dark. Or perhaps a little too damp for your plants.

This is such an exciting time of the year and it feels so good when things go according to plan. I'm crossing my fingers!
/Sara Bäckmo

13. February 2021