GROWING plants from seed is a great way to start gardening earlier in the season. With the right light and some simple equipment, it’s easy to grow from seed to harvest.

Keep it simple
Because each plant has unique seed-starting requirements, it helps to start small by growing just a few varieties. Some seeds — such as tomatoes and marigolds — are especially easy to start indoors. If you’re a beginner, choose those first, and then move on to more fussy seeds, such as petunias.

Other good choices for beginners:

  • Basil
  • Zinnia
  • Coleus
  • Nasturtium
  • Cosmos

Make sure you have lots of light
All seedlings require a considerable amount of light, so make sure you have a sunny, south-facing window. If seedlings don’t get enough light, they will be leggy and weak.

If you don’t have a sunny, south-facing window, invest in grow lights and a timer . It’s the best way to ensure consistent, abundant light. Set the timer for 15 hours a day, water regularly and you’re sure to get great results.

Get the timing right
The goal with seed starting is to have your seedlings ready to go outside when the weather is favorable. Start by looking at the seed packet, which should tell you when to start seeds inside. Usually, it will say something like, “Plant inside six to eight weeks before last frost.”

Some types of vegetables, such as beans and squash, are best started outdoors. There is little benefit to growing them indoors because they germinate and grow quickly. Some flowers, such as poppies, are best planted outdoors, too. These seeds are usually marked “direct sow”.

Six Steps, from Seed to Garden

1. Find the right containers
You can start seeds in almost any type of container, as long as it’s at least 2-3 ” deep and has some drainage holes. If you are the DIY type, you might want to grow seedlings in yogurt cups, milk cartons or paper cups. I prefer the convenience of trays that are made especially for seed starting. It’s easy to fill the trays, the watering system ensures consistent moisture and I can move them easily.

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