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Everything You Need To Know About Starting Seeds Indoors

Rodale's Organic Life Logo By ROL Staff of Rodale's Organic Life | Slide 1 of 5: <p>Space large seeds at least 1 inch apart, planting 2 or 3 seeds in each pot (snip off the weaker seedlings later). Plant medium-sized seeds ½ to 1 inch apart, and tiny ones about ½ inch apart. If you’re sowing only a few seeds, use your fingertips or tweezers to place them precisely. To sprinkle seeds evenly, try one of these methods:</p><p>Take a pinch of seeds between your thumb and forefinger and slowly rotate thumb against finger—try to release the seeds gradually while moving your hand over the container.</p><p>Scatter seeds from a spoon.</p><p>Sow seeds directly from the corner of the packet by tapping the packet gently to make the seeds drop out one by one.</p><p>Mix fine seeds with dry sand, and scatter the mixture from a saltshaker.</p><p>To sow seeds in tiny furrows or rows, just make shallow ¼- to ½-inch-deep depressions in the soil with a plant label or an old pencil. Space the seeds along the bottom of the furrow.</p><p>Cover the seeds to a depth of three times their thickness by carefully sprinkling them with light, dry potting soil or seed-starting medium. (Try this great <strong><a href="http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/soil-recipe-window-boxes">soil recipe for window boxes</a></strong>.) Don’t cover seeds that need light to germinate (check the seed packet for special germination requirements). Instead, gently pat the surface of the mix so the seeds and mix have good contact.</p><p>Be sure to write a label for each kind of seed you plant and put it in the flat or pot as soon as the seeds are planted, before any mix-ups occur. Then, set the flats or pots in shallow containers of water and let them soak until the surface of the planting medium looks moist. Or you can gently mist the mix. If you water from the top, use a watering can with a rose nozzle to get a gentle stream that won’t wash the seeds out of place. (Check out these <strong><a href="http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/9-mistakes-youre-making-every-time-you-water-your-garden">9 mistakes you're making every time you water your garden</a></strong>.)</p><p>Cover the containers, using clear plastic or a floating row cover for seeds that need light, or black plastic, damp newspaper, or burlap for those that prefer the dark. </p><p>Finally, put the containers of planted seeds in a warm place where you can check them daily. Check the flats daily; keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. As soon as you notice sprouts nudging above the soil surface, expose the flat to light.</p><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/5-reasons-you-should-start-your-own-seeds-instead-of-buying-seedlings">5 Reasons You Should Start Your Own Seeds Instead Of Buying Seedlings</a></strong></p>

Starting seeds indoors will give you earlier vegetables and flowers. And because you’re not at the mercy of planting only what the garden center has to offer, your cultivar choices will be endless. Feeling apprehensive? It’s normal for a seed-starting newbie. But rest assured, the act of seed planting is quite simple. First, select your work area—a surface at a comfortable height and close to a water supply where you’ll have room to spread things out. Next, gather your supplies: seed-starting containers, starting medium or soil mix, watering can, labels, marking pen, and seed packets.

© Photograph by Hero Images/ Getty

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