seed packs in basket

Planting Vegetable Seeds Indoors


seed packs

It’s late winter, and here in northern California it’s time to start planting vegetable seeds for a spring garden. These seeds are planted indoors initially.

I used seed trays and flats that I saved from plants I bought at the garden store last summer. You can also purchase seed starting kits with a nice cover and bottom tray.

Start by first deciding what you’d like to plant. Some spring veggies include peas, various greens like kale, lettuce or arugula, or onions.

Next, set out your seed trays and fill about half full with seed mix or potting soil.

seed tray with dirt

Check the back of the seed packet to find out how deep to plant the seeds. Generally, larger seeds go deeper, smaller go shallower.

back of seed pack

Add seeds to the tray cells, about 2 seeds per cell for larger seeds like peas or beans, 3 to 4 for medium seeds like peppers and 6 or so for very small seeds like lettuces.

seed tray dirt and seeds   seed tray dirt and seeds

As you go, add markers with the names of the seeds written on the markers. You can use a sharpee or a pencil is even better. You can erase and reuse the tabs from season to season, and the pencil marks don’t wash away. Place the markers into the edge of one of the cells, pushing it into the soil so it doesn’t stick out very far.

pencil and pen   seed tray with dirt

Now cover the seeds loosely with more soil until the cells are filled to the top.

seed packet with dirt

Next water the tray thoroughly. Let it sit for 10 minutes and water again. Repeat this a third time.

Cover seed trays with plastic, and once they finish draining the third time, move them indoors into a warm spot. You can buy heating mats for the trays, but I don’t think it’s a necessary expense. Leave the trays undisturbed and check them daily.

seed tray covered with plastic

Once you see sprouts in the first cell, remove the plastic wrap. At this point, you can put the trays outside during the day and bring them in at night. Keep them moist, watering when needed.

My first sprouts came up in 4 days. At this point, I removed the plastic, and set them outside during the day, bringing them in at night. They were still plenty moist, so I didn’t need to water them.

This is how they looked when they first sprouted. on the left is the pea shoots. They came up a few days after the kale sprouts, on the right.

dirt       sprouted kale

I continue to put them outside in the sun and bring them in at night. This is how they looked after 7 days.

sprouted peas  sprouted kale

They did not need water for about 8 days, but keep in mind that seeds need to be kept continually moist in order for them to sprout. Don’t let the soil completely dry.

sprouted pea seed

This is a bean plant sprout. It took 8 days for it to sprout, but when it did  it looked like this!


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