Winter Seed Starting 101

Anxious to get started in the garden? I know I am! You don’t have to wait until the weather is perfect. Get a jump start on growing by starting seeds in late winter. You can plant all kinds of flowers and veggies inside, let them grow, and move them outdoors when the weather is right. Today, I’ll cover what plants are great for winter sowing and what supplies you’ll need to get started.

“When Should I Plant Winter Seeds?”One tall seedling with three smaller seedlings in black plastic containers on window sill next to dirty window

You don’t want to start your seeds too early, especially tomatoes. A good rule of thumb is to plant indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost in your area.

Use The Old Farmer’s Almanac Frost Dates Calculator to find out the estimated last spring frost date. Also, find the best planting dates for different veggies in your location HERE.

Winter Seed Sowing Supplies

  • Seeds (of course…)
  • Plastic Seed Trays
  • Drainage Trays
  • Seed Starting Soil Mixpots boxes briquette for gardening in white background
    • OR Soilless Peat Moss + Vermiculite and Perlite
  • Hanging Light
    • Timer (optional)
  • Space for Plants
  • Labels
  • Mist Sprayer / Meat-Basting Syringe* (yea, you read that right)

How to Start Seeds

Moisten your soilless peat moss mixture or seed starting soil with warm water. You don’t need the soil to be soaking, just moist.

Fill the seed containers about 2/3 of the way.

Plant the seeds according to the seed packet. Most seeds can be gently pressed into the soil. Don’t forget to label. I use blue painter’s tape.

Once the seeds are in the soil, cover the containers with plastic. Prick ventilation holes in the plastic with a toothpick or pin.

Water newly started seedlings as directed. Using a mist sprayer is gentle enough, but if you have a lot of seeds to water, it could take a while. Instead, try using a meat-basting syringe. This won’t disrupt the soil as much and is more time efficient.

Seeds will sprout best at 65 to 75º F. Find a place in your house that is naturally warm, like above the refrigerator or near the oven (move them if the oven is on). Or, you can use a Heat Mat.

When your seedlings appear, remove the plastic and move the containers to a bright area. Hanging LED lights with a timer work perfectly because they don’t produce any extra heat, they’re cost-efficient, and you can time them to come on before you wake up. Seedlings need 12-15 hours of uninterrupted light a day.

plants outside after starting indoors. vegetables and herbs

Once your seedlings get their second pair of leaves, it’s time for them to live in individual pots. Fill those containers with potting mix and compost if you have it. Carefully, move your plants to their new home.

During the last week indoors, start setting the plants outside for a few hours a day, leaving them out a bit longer every day. Make sure to bring them in at night.

Then, your little plants are ready to be transplanted into your garden!

Tips for Transplanting

  • Test the soil in your garden before planting by using a soil tester. The original seed packet should tell you what type of soil your plants flourish in.hands planting sweet pepper seedlings transplanting plants
  • Set transplants into well-aerated, loose soil. This will help the new roots penetrate the soil. Plus, the soil will retain moisture and drain better with high-quality soil.
  • Once your new seedlings are transplanted, soak the soil around them.
  • Spread mulch around your garden to reduce soil moisture loss and weed control.
  • If you decide to use a fertilizer, make sure you use one with phosphorus. Phosphorus promotes strong root development so this will help your plants get used to their new home.

Some Veggies to Start Inside

  • Beansvegetables and greens in the garden
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplants
  • Herbs
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes

Use a Garden Planner tool to map out your garden in advance. Then, plant a bit more than you need. That way you’re prepared for loss or you can share your plants with friends.

am very excited to get my garden started. If you have any more tips for me or would like to see more gardening posts like this, please let me know in the comment section below.

Make sure to check out more of our past blogs here!