Planting Seeds Indoors
Whether you’re using soil blocks or pots / trays for your seeds, the same methods apply for actually planting your seeds.
Once you have your trays or blocks ready, gather your seeds, and prepare to plant.
Most vegetables can be seeded with 1 seed per pot, though there are a few exceptions.
For example, 2 cucumber / squash / melon seeds can be planted together; onions can be planted with 3-4 seeds together
Avoid the temptation to plant multiple seeds per pot. This is almost never a good idea, as you’ll have to separate the seedlings later, or thin them out and discard the excess.
Set a seed in the centre of each pot.
Once you’ve placed all the seeds, gently press them into the soil with your fingertip.
Small seeds (that are approximately the size of a pencil point) don’t need to be covered with soil; as long as they have good contact with the soil (because of being pressed in), they will germinate just fine
For large seeds (such as peppers, cucumbers, etc): after pressing them into the soil, swipe some of the soil from the edge of the pot, and cover the seed with the soil
Set the tray of pots in a warm place until the seeds germinate. This need not be under a light - it can be anywhere that’s warm and out of the way.
Cover the tray with a piece of plastic. This is very important, to keep all the moisture in the pots, so that they don’t dry out and don’t need to be disturbed until the seeds germinate.
You can buy clear domes that are meant for this purpose, but you can also use something that you already have around home.
I use a large garbage bag, which will cover up to 3 trays at once, but any type of bag or hard piece of plastic or glass will work. I re-use the same bags for covering trays all season, and they finally end up being used as a garbage bag in the fall!
The germination time varies for all the different crops. Start checking your seeds for germination in:
2 days for brassicas
3 days for lettuce
2+ days for tomatoes
5+ days for peppers (some of them take up to 2 weeks to germinate)
2-3 days for cucurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, melons, etc)
4+ days for onions
Check them every day, ideally twice per day - and as SOON as they germinate, get them to the light.
This is the best way to ensure stocky, sturdy seedlings. If they’re not put under lights within a half day of germinating, some of them can become very straggly and leggy (brassicas and tomatoes in particular).
A window that faces south is ideal, so that the plants get strong light. Another option is a 4 foot long “shop light”, which gives enough light for 2 trays of seedlings.
Ideally, they should receive light for 12 hours per day, with 14 - 16 hours being optimum.
Check them for water every day, and watch your wee seeds sprout into healthy plants!