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Dept. of Plant and Soil Science

Indoor Seed Sowing-- Vegetables                                                                 OH90

Dr. Leonard Perry

Extension Professor                                                                                         

 

Starting seedlings of annual flowers and vegetables indoors has several advantages:

--the fun of watching your own plants grow from seed, getting a jump on spring

--the ability to grow more unusual and different varieties than you often find in retail outlets

--saving money

--using washed and recycled containers from year's prior, helping the environment

--the ability, especially in northern climates, of getting a jump on the season, extending it by several weeks by planting more mature plants than sowing seeds directly

--starting seedlings that are difficulty to sow direct and have survive, especially slow-growing ones

 

Culture:

--Use a sowing mix for starting seeds, not garden soil.  Those that don’t transplant well should be sown in peat pots (indicated in table).

--Sow at a depth of about twice the diameter of the seed; very small seeds can be sprinkled on the surface and allowed to settle in when the container is gently tapped on the sides.

--Keep gently watered, as with a water breaker ("rose") on a watering can.  Don't allow to dry out, and don't keep too wet.  Be sure to use lukewarm water, especially in the north.

--Sow in individual cells, or in rows in a flat.  This way if a disease starts it wont spread too far before you can remove the affected plants and soil.  The main disease to watch for is "damping-off", often caused by seedlings staying too wet.  Seedlings rot at the base, toppling over quickly.

--Keep in bright light.  You may grow under fluorescent lamps for much of the seedling and young plant growth.  Use alternating cool and warm white tubes, in a couple of light fixtures side by side over flats.  Keep 4 to 6 inches above tops of plants.  Hanging fixtures on chains makes it easy to raise them as plants grow.  Keep lights on 14 to 16 hours a day, such as on a timer.  New thinner energy-efficient tubes are effective and save energy. 

--Most seedlings respond to bottom heat, as from seedling heating mats. 

--Once seedlings start developing leaves, lightly fertilize them, such as with 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer.  Be aware that many organic liquid fish or seaweed fertilizer may have an undesirable odor indoors.

 

Dates:

 

 

weeks

 

Vegetable, Herb

pack

pot

ease

Temp.

comments

Artichoke

6-8

10

M

 

 

Basil

4-6

8

E

 

 

Beans (o)

2

4

E

W

sow in peat pots, outdoors when warm

Beets (o)

5

7

E

 

soak seeds overnight before sowing

Borage

2

4

E

 

sow in peat pots

Broccoli

5

7

E

 

 

Brussels Sprouts

5

7

E

 

 

Cabbage, Kale

5

7

E

C

 

Carrot (o)

5

7

E

 

sow outdoors

Cauliflower

5

7

E

 

 

Chives

5

7

E

 

 

Corn, Sweet (o)

2

4

E

 

sow outdoors when warm

Cucumber (o)

3

5

E

W

sow outdoors when warm

Dill (o)

7

9

E

 

 

Eggplant

7

9

E

W

 

Gourd, ornamental (o)

3

5

E

 

sow outdoors when warm

Lavender

10

12

E

 

 

Lettuce (o)

4

6

E

 

some vars. require light to germinate

Melons (o)

4

6

E

W

sow in peat pots, outdoors when warm

Onion

5

7

E

C

often from small plants called “sets”

Oregano

5

7

E

 

 

Parsley (o)

8

10

E

 

 

Pea, sweet

2

4

E

 

generally not sown indoors

Pepper

7

9

E

 

 

Sage

4

6

E

 

 

Spinach

4

6

E

 

best sown outdoors

Squash (o)

2

4

E

 

sow in peat pots, outdoors when warm

Summer Savory

4

6

E

 

 

Sweet Marjoram

5

7

E

 

 

Swiss Chard

6

8

E

 

 

Thyme

5

7

E

 

 

Tomatoes

5-7

9

E

 

 

 

3/09

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont.


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