Starting Seeds Indoors – Part II: Additional Materials
In this article we present some additional tools and materials needed for starting your seeds indoors and taking a great care of them. A proper care requires not just optimal conditions (such as light, water and heat) but also making your plants strong and hardy enough to be able to survive and thrive once you move them outdoors. Strong, healthy plants (such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and more) can easily be planted in your garden once you move them outdoors.
Another thing you should keep in mind when starting seeds indoors is organization. Organization is the key to success. You should never let various seeds and seedlings to be mixed up. It may result in providing wrong conditions to your plants. Never rely on your memory to remember which plants and varieties you planted where. Labels and markers are your friends to keep everything organized.
Additional Tools and Materials Needed for Starting Seeds Indoors
The most essential things you need for starting seeds indoors are seeds themselves, medium and containers. It’s also important to provide your plants with optimal conditions such as water, light and heat.
Here are some of the additional tools and materials you need for successfully starting seeds indoors:
This is a very important tool and it can be used both for mist-watering and adding moisture. Get a decent one that will not leak and that can be used for a long time. Moisturizing your seedlings is very important. If the planting mix is dry on the surface the water tends to “run” more than it does when it’s already moist. For this reason, moistening the surface is advisable. If you keep the surface moist once you water the plant the water will soak in quicker.
It’s best to use lukewarm or room-temperature water for the seedlings. This is particularly important for the warm season ones, such as peppers and tomatoes. Tap water tends to be cold, especially in winter months. It’s therefore the best to store it in water containers (such as jugs) so you don’t have to wait for it to get warmer before you water your seedlings. Plastic 3-liter or gallon sized containers are ideal. If you want to feed your plants with an organic liquid fertilizer use one gallon jugs: they fit nicely to do the mixing.
Planting and transplanting is messy. To keep your house as clean as possible and to be able to clean quickly after the job is done, always put a cover down first. It’s best to use old towels because they can collect any spilled water. Alternatively, you may use old sheets.
Use them to store and mix your medium for starting seeds. You can buy larger bins at sales, especially around the holiday season. You may also use trays and you can make them in many different ways. For example, you can use the bottom of a cat litter box or an old crisper tray from a refrigerator. They don’t cost much and they can be great for mixing the medium for your seeds.
They are great for moving a bunch of transplants. Use cardboard box trays you can get at any store. You will often be able to get them for free. Use them to move a group of containers quickly and without much hassle.
Cheese spreader knife is best for what you need. It will come in handy when the time comes to transfer your seedlings to a larger container. Many plant growers start plants in small, six or nine cell pack containers. When the seedlings grow, it’s important to move them to a larger container. However, it should be done without disturbing the roots of the seedlings. Sometimes, it’s enough to push on the bottom of the cell pack chambers to push the seedlings up. If it doesn’t work you should use a spreader knife. Put the spreader knife blade gently on one side of the chamber. It will help get the seedling out. Make sure you don’t disturb the plant. Use the knife only if other removal methods fail.
To properly organize everything, it’s best to keep detailed notes and labels. Some people use old metal blinds and other rely on craft sticks. A great advantage to craft sticks is that it can serve as a moisture meter. Put them in several spots in your containers or seed trays. To check for the moisture, pull the stick out. If the bottom of the stick is still moist the plant has enough water for now. If not, it’s a sign it should be watered again. However, you don’t need to use the sticks for labeling. Anything will do as long as you are able to read the information quickly and as long as it’s properly organized. It’s best to note everything: the plant (and variety), date of seeding and date of transplanting.
Markers and Pens
These are needed to write on your labels. One word of caution: rollerball or felt-tip pens have ink that may bleed when it gets wet. For this reason, it’s best to use a permanent ink or ballpoint pen. This will prevent accidents so you will always be able to read the label.
Pens for Poking Holes
Sometimes, you will need to make smaller holes than your fingers can do. To make them, remove the refill part of an ink pen or a mechanical pencil to poke the holes with them. This is a good way to reuse pens that have run out of ink.