Tips For Growing Seedlings Indoors

Hey guys!! I’m so glad you could join me, Jill, Amy, and Megan for another fun-filled Homestead Barn Hop! It has been so inspiring visiting everyone’s homesteads and seeing what you’ve all been up to! Keep the great ideas coming!

Around here we’ve been getting ready for planting season…

I’m just dying for the last frost to come so that I can get my seedlings out into the garden!! I’m running out of room under my grow light!

If you are new to starting seeds indoors, it’s very simple. And you basically use the same method for most plants (with a few exceptions which should be noted on your seed packet).

I like using individual cups best, like dixie cups or washed out yogurt containers. But, as you can see, I’m using egg cartons as well. Poke a couple of holes in the bottom of each cup for drainage. Fill your container with seed starting mix, NOT potting mix.

Water the mix well, and let it drain until it is no longer dripping from the bottom holes. Then plant your seeds at the recommended depth (should say on package). Put your container in an open ziploc bag, or something similar, and place it on top of your fridge (or in an out-of-direct-light place that’s fairly warm).

Keep an eye on your trays! Check your seedlings every day to see if any have emerged. As soon as you see your seedlings popping up, put them under a light, an inch or so from the bulb.

I like to bottom water the plants to avoid disrupting the roots. To do this I put the cups or trays into another tray or container, and fill that with water to be soaked up into the cups through the holes in the bottom.

As the seedlings grow, adjust the height of the light so that the plants don’t get too close to the bulb and get burned.

Here’s what’s growing in my kitchen at the moment…

Nasturtium. I plan on putting these close to my broccoli and cabbage, and maybe my tomatoes and cucumbers as well. They will help to keep the pests away. Plus, the blooms are edible.

Pimento Peppers (front). I plan on canning these for making pimento cheese and some other stuff. Balloon Flowers (back); just for fun.

Tomatoes. Here’s a tip: If you are planting more than one variety of tomatoes, don’t write the name on a label and stick it in the container with the seedlings. You may end up moving stuff around, or dropping the label, and then you won’t know which is which.

Yeah. I did that.

And now I’m not sure if my seedlings are “Delicious” or “Brandywine Pink”. Oh well. A tomato is a tomato, right?

It’s better to either write on the individual container, or stick a sticky label on it, so it doesn’t come off.

(Photo on left) Lavender, Cilantro, Marjoram, Sage. Here’s another tip: Don’t start seeds of different types in an egg carton. If they have different germination times you’ll have some coming up before the others. The seedlings which have emerged need to be put into the light immediately, and the seeds still germinating do best in the dark, and there’s no way to separate the two to accommodate them when they are in an egg carton.

Yeah. I did that too.

Always learning as I go!

(Photo on right) Sweetpea Flowers. Again, for fun. They are supposed to be climbing vines with beautiful blooms on them.

Oh yeah, this reminds me of one more not-so-great thing about using egg cartons. Notice only four of the Sweetpeas germinated? This means that only four out of 24 spots in those cartons are being used. Which means a bunch of empty cups taking up valuable space underneath the grow light. Yet another reason to plant your seedlings individually.


Chives. Hoping they transplant well.

(Left) Basil. (Right) Globe Artichokes. Really, really, really hoping the artichokes do well. We LOVE artichokes!! Not sure how they’ll do in our climate, they might end up being an annual instead of a perennial, but I sure am gonna try!

Here’s everything back under the lights. After I took these photos I worked on transplanting the tomatoes and peppers into larger pots. I’ve started hardening off a few things in the cold frame outside over the weekend. Hopefully I’ll be putting more stuff into the garden by the end of the week!

So, what’s growing at your place? Got a new recipe to share? Learn something new this week? I’d love to hear what’s going on around your homestead, so be sure to link up!

About Kendra 1035 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


    • Meredith,

      I’ve actually been making these paper pots for transplanting my seedlings, but mine aren’t nearly as nice as the ones you’ve linked to!! I just roll my newspaper around a jar or can, and tape it together. I LOVE these other ones, thanks for sharing!!

  1. Hi Kendra, I read your blog almost everyday. We started our homestead about 5 yrs. ago and are learning as we go! I love your recipes and all your helpful insights! I wanted to tell you about our newest love! Hydroponic gardening. My hubby did all the research and built our own system in the basement. Everything is grown in our basement in about a 7′ by 7′ space (estimate) Right now we have lettuce and tomato growing completely organic! The taste is unbelievable! We got our light kit from Atlantic Hydroponics and some of the water/pump system from Crop King. It can be quite expensive to start, but we are justifying it by having a year round garden! Thank you for your daily inspiration!

  2. Haha, that’s exactly what I used for planting my seedlings–dixie cups and yogurt cups! I also have an egg carton standing by but I haven’t used it yet. Don’t have a grow light–just using the south-facing window sills. Thanks for the tip about keeping seeds in the dark until they germinate. I didn’t know that πŸ™‚

  3. @Mary Ann, You wrote my comment out for me already! You’re one smart lady ;D

    I was excited when my husband found a whole stash of plastic nursery pots on Craiglist this weekend that are free. It’s so silly the things that thrill us homesteaders, isn’t it? They’re my favorite thing to use since the are reusable if you exercise care. I couldn’t stand buying Jiffy pots every year! It was a real pain in the pocketbook.

  4. Chives will transplant wonderfully. And you’ll never be able to get rid of them. πŸ™‚ They’re like the cat in the hat – always come back.

    The carton spaces where things didn’t come up that are still under the lights – can you replant? More marigolds or peas or whatever floats your boat. I had to replant a few tomatoes and some basil since the first batch didn’t take and I wasn’t about to have empty little plugs. πŸ˜€

  5. Thanks Kendra. I’m pretty sure I wont need one in our heat but i keep hearing about them and just couldn’t help but ask. I think I need the opposite.. a box to keep them cool!
    I want to start growing from seed so I will be using your tips to get going. Why not cut the egg carton apart and just keep the sections with sprouted seedlings?

  6. Hi Kendra,

    I’m from Australia and it doesn’t get very cold here so just out of curiosity can you please tell me what a cold frame is?

    Love what you are doing. I’ve been trying to do the same with limited success.

    • nightowl_72,

      A cold frame is just a box with a window that can open and close. You can grow stuff straight in it, or put seedlings in it to be transplanted later. It’s used like a mini-green house and keeps plants warm until danger of frost has passed πŸ™‚ Sounds like you probably wouldn’t need one, lol!

  7. Looking good!
    On the nasturtiums- the leaves are edible as well as the flowers- peppery taste for booth. Flowers are really good stuffed with cream cheese. If they don’t take well to transplanting- that is no unusual- they usually prefer not to be disturbed like that. BUT- never hurts to try it anyway.
    On the tomatoes that you don’t know if they are Delicious or Brandywine Pink- Brandywine Pink is usually a potato leaf variety- Delicious has the standard looking tomato leaves. You will be able to tell after a few leaves “true” grow.
    Rosemary is a notoriously poor germinator- around 20 percent or so- so if you don’t have big successes there- don’t think you did something wrong.
    Happy gardening!

  8. I wish I would have read this about a month ago. I have been having issues getting any of my seedlings to grow. I am going to try out some of your methods and see if that works. Thanks

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