Start Your Garden Indoors
Many vegetables, especially those that grow slowly, do better when transplanted into a garden as young plants than when planted directly as seeds.  Starting your plants indoors from seed is a great way to get your hands in the dirt, even when it's not prime gardening time.  Plus, it gives you more choices as to what you grow.  Here are some tips to get started:

  • Start gathering supplies.  You'll need seeds, plastic bags, pots and potting soil.  Clean and reuse any pots left from last year. You can also recycle yogurt containers or similar-sized plastic pots.  Make sure to wash them out and punch a hole in the bottom for water to drain.
  • Combine equal parts of good soil from your garden and finished compost free of sticks and rocks.  Mix up the dirt well and be sure to break up any clumps.
  • Label containers with the date and type of seed, then fill each ¾-full with your soil.  Bury big seeds about ¼-inch deep into the potting mix.  For smaller seeds, place them on top of the soil and sprinkle more soil on top.
  • Try putting two or three seeds in each pot in case some don't germinate.
  • Water the soil until it's moist, then put the pots into plastic bags to hold in the moisture. Transfer them to a warm spot, like the top of your refrigerator. Make sure to check on them regularly to see if the seeds have germinated and that they haven't dried out.
  • After the seeds have sprouted, remove the pots from the plastic bags and place them in a greenhouse under grow lights or in a bright, south-facing window. Plants will grow best if they're kept between 65 and 72 degrees.
  • As the plants get bigger, cut all but the strongest, best-looking seedling in each pot.  The strongest ones will make the best plants and produce the most in the garden when it comes time to transplant them in the spring.  And finally, don't let the plants dry out.