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How to Grow Successful Seedlings

If you’re going to grow vegetables indoors in fall, winter and early spring, you’ll be starting your own plants from seeds. For successful sowing, remember these pointers, which are also valuable if you’re starting transplants for your outdoor gardens.

Start Small

To help keep space requirements down, look for miniature types of vegetables or vegetables that you can eat while immature, such as baby carrots, cherry or grape tomatoes (sometimes called Patio Tomatoes) bush beans, short-vined cucumbers, spinach and chard, and salad mixes (also known as mesclun mixes or baby greens).

Don’t Go for Discounts

Buy top quality seed from reputable companies. Most seedhouses now date their seed packets, so you can be sure you’re purchasing seed for the current growing season. Resist the urge to purchase discount seeds in dollar stores, because you’ll get very low germination rates-or no germination at all.

Share Your Seeds

Share seed orders with a friend. In many cases, seed packages contain many more seeds than you’ll need in a single season, and while some seeds remain viable for years, others don’t. Pairing up with a gardening buddy on orders means you can split the cost of seeds, and not have so many left over afterwards.

Mind the Manual

Follow instructions for planting seeds: some need to be covered with soil, others should just be pressed into the soil surface. Don’t sow too thickly or you’ll have to thin seedlings out, a challenging process if there are fifty seedlings in a 3-inch pot.

Store Your Seeds

Leftover seeds can often be saved for another year, provided they are stored in a cool, dry location. Some gardeners use small jars or tins, others use envelops; just remember to label any containers that are not original seed packets, so you don’t have to rely on memory next season.

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