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Start Vegetable Seeds Indoors Early

By: Maureen Gilmer

Inner-city kids from Head Start programs perform at much higher levels of literacy and language than kids of the same socioeconomic groups who did not attend the program. Likewise, starting vegetable seeds indoors while it’s still cold helps gardeners get a head start in the spring and summer garden. Many vegetables perform much better when they are nurtured indoors before outdoor planting.

Timing Planting

Start different vegetables at varying times before outdoor planting. For example, the rule of thumb for tomatoes and peppers is to sow them six to eight weeks before the estimated planting date, which is usually a couple of weeks after the last frost of spring. To accomplish this, start them in late February or early March. At planting time, tomato and pepper starts should be six inches tall or more.

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 harvesting early. (Planting early-to-produce vegetables also ensures an earlier harvest.) Warm outdoor soil and strong root systems will make them vigorous growers after transplanting.

Home Seed Starting Advantages

The advantages of starting seedlings at home are that they cost less, seed catalogs offer more choice than nurseries, and, if you are an organic gardener, you can be confident that your plants have been grown organically. (OMRI Listed Black Gold Seedling Mix is approved for organic gardening.) Seed catalogs carry wonderful specialty vegetables and heirlooms that are often tastier and a lot more fun to cook with.

The Seed Starting Environment

Growing seeds indoors requires a sunny windowsill, sun porch, greenhouse, or cold frame. Choose a south-facing window that provides at least 6-hours of sunlight. If that’s not available, consider investing in full-spectrum grow lights to start seeds.

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. A quality growing mix is essential. Black Gold’s Seedling Mix is light and airy for reliable germination and root growth.

Other Materials Required:

  • Black Gold’s Seedling Mix
  • Seed
  • Plastic pots or cell packs with water-holding flats and clear plastic cover
  • Mister and small watering can
  • Four-inch pots to upgrade seedlings
  • Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil
  • Waer-soluble fertilizer
Read these additional Black Gold articles about seed starting.

  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 is celebrating her 40th year in California horticulture and photojournalism as the most widely published professional in the state. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design and the environment, is a widely published photographer, and syndicated with Tribune Content Agency. She is the weekly horticultural columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and contributes to Desert Magazine, specializing on arid zone plants and practices for a changing climate. She works and lives in the remote high desert for firsthand observations of native species. Her latest book is The Colorful Dry Garden published by Sasquatch Books. When not writing or photographing she is out exploring the desert on her Arabian horse. 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.

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