Germinating Vegetable Seeds Indoors: Get A Head Start

By: Maureen Gilmer

Inner city kids from Head Start programs performed at much higher levels of literacy and language than kids of the same socio-economic groups who did not attend the program. Germinating vegetable seeds indoors while it’s still cold outside helps your summer garden benefit just the same way. The rule is to sow tomato seed six to eight weeks before the date of the estimated last frost in your climate zone. This date may be just before or after May 1st, the most universal date for planting vegetable gardens, which demand you begin in March at the very latest.

Seedling Web

Seedling: You can protect tiny seedlings much easier indoors, then transplant into the garden after the last frost.

Where summers are short, starting early means you harvest early, and it continues on until frost. By the time May 1st comes around, your indoor tomatoes and pepper starts may be six inches tall or more. These are easy to keep track of once transplanted into the garden due to a larger root zone. Warm outdoor soil will make them vigorous growers after transplanting, with maturity just weeks away.

The alternative to head starting your seed is expensive because you must buy organic nursery grown seedlings, which can be pricey. A one gallon tomato sells for as much as $7. You’ll be limited to the varieties the nursery decided to grow, and these may not be the most ideal if you love oddballs and heirlooms that are fun to cook with. Only by purchasing your own seed and starting it at home can you grow specialty veggies so admired in swanky gourmet eateries.

Growing indoors requires a sunny window sill, sun porch, greenhouse or cold frame. A south facing window is ideal to provide light for as many hours of the day as possible. If that’s not available, consider investing in full spectrum lights that allow you to start in your basement or anywhere else you have space.

Head Start

Head Start: It’s easy to start a garden in new or recycled containers.

Before you begin sowing seed, it’s important to gather all the materials you’ll need ahead of time. All soil materials should be OMRI listed if you plan to grow an organic garden. To ensure there will be no disease to attack your emerging seedlings, sow into Black Gold Seedling Mix because it is a sterile blend of peat and perlite. This combination ensures this media remains light and airy, with a perfect environment for germination and emerging roots.

Other items you’ll need include:

  • Seed for all plants you want to start indoors
  • Plastic dome-cover flat that retains moisture while seeds germinate.
  • Misting nozzle for your watering hose.
  • Individual containers to transplant seedlings into potting soil.
  • Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil
  • Good fertilizer

Refer back to the Black Gold website for upcoming articles that show you the step-by-step process for starting your organic garden indoors with Black Gold organic soil products. After all, you can’t grow clean food if you don’t start on the right foot with organic potting soils.

This article is an introduction to a six-part series entitled How to Start Seed Indoors by expert garden writer and Black Gold contributor Maureen Gilmer.READ MORE ARTICLES FROM THIS SERIES…
Intro: Germinating Vegetable Seeds Indoors: Get A Head Start This March

  1. How to Start Seed Indoors 1 of 6: Read The Seed Packet Before Starting Seed Indoors
  2. How to Start Seed Indoors 2 of 6: Use Clean Bedding to Prevent Damping Off
  3. How to Start Seed Indoors 3 of 6: The Right Container Helps Germinate Seed
  4. How to Start Seed Indoors 4 of 6: Sowing Your Seed Properly
  5. How to Start Seed Indoors 5 of 6: Proper Watering of Indoor Seedlings
  6. How to Start Seed Indoors 6 of 6: Transplant Seedlings Into Pots

About Maureen Gilmer


Maureen Gilmer has been a noted figure in horticultural journalism for over 30 years. She is author of 18 gardening books and writer of Yardsmart, a national column syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service. She is also garden columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in the international resort town of Palm Springs. Maureen is a public speaker and former host of Weekend Gardening on the DIY Channel. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.