Germinating seeds indoors gives your future plants a good fighting chance in their sprout forms to grow into healthy plants.
Planting seeds - or sowing seeds, we should say; is a simple and considered way to get new flowers and vegetables in your garden. Sowing seed indoors lets you start growing much earlier than sowing seeds outside. When growing vegetables, it is good to sow seeds in small batches every two weeks; this will give a long season of fresh vegetables throughout the summer - sometimes known as successional sowing.
By germinating seeds indoors, you can control the conditions, start growing plants earlier in the season, saves sprouts from being killed off by a frost and help avoid the sprouts being eaten by garden pests.
You do not need a lot of fancy equipment; we like to use what we have in the house - could be a pot, egg carton, yoghurt pots, paper roll tubes, you name it. Just make sure it can hold the compost and freely drain the water at the bottom.
maintain an even temperature for germinating seeds.
The best way to keep an even temperature for your seeds is to cover them with a clear piece of plastic or glass. You can get a decent propagator with its own clear lid, or you will find old freezer bags work just as well. Be sure to seal the sides with tape or an elastic band to keep the temperature stable.
the best position for your seeds to germinate indoors.
If you can, choose a south-facing window, the east can work too, with a larger window. Windows in other directions can make seedlings leggy. Either way, you go, you should rotate your sprouts to help them grow vertically. Think about how the space is currently being used; if the cat sits on that windowsill, or you use a privacy blind to cover the window, you will probably want to avoid it to save your sprouts from being flattened.
Find a space in your home that gets good indirect light. Intense, direct sunlight can lead to soil drying out within the day, or worse, sprouts becoming burnt to a crisp.
hold off germinating seeds too early.
We are based in London, tall neighbouring buildings bring lots of shade, which means indoor sprouts get a minimal amount of light until mid-February. We generally go with the 10-hour daylight rule (there are some exceptions!) - checking the trusty weather app, and when there are 10 hours of sunlight from sunrise to sunset, you are good to go.
keep your home warm.
Seeds best germinate at a temperature of 18-24°C. So keep the heating on over the colder months or get yourself a seed matt warmer. You can also use the warm top of your fridge for germinating your seeds.
you are not a greenhouse.
Do not be disheartened if you do not see miraculous germinating seeds overnight. Your conditions are different to that of a professional greenhouse. Remember, every plant is unique; some can take their sweet time to germinate.
Every plant has its own nuance. In some cases, plants grow better being planted directly outside or in their pots as they don't like to be moved. Be sure to check the growing guide or packet for any quirks!