Wednesday, April 4, 2018

6 steps for growing indoors, when winter won't leave

Since the cold weather has not loosened its grip on Southeast Michigan, I dug up some information for growing plants indoors. Hopefully, it will soon warm up enough that gardeners can work the soil and plant greens seeds outside.
Southeast Michigan is mostly in Plant Hardiness Zone 5 with a few areas in Zone 6. I think our yard is in the colder Zone 4, this year.
While I wait for the ground to thaw out, I've been sprouting Mung beans for my gardening fix.
For information on sprouting, visit

Here are the indoor growing tips:
1. The best containers are wood pulp pots or peat pots. You can also use plastic cell containers with covers or egg cartons with holes poked in the bottom and saran wrap on top. (Or reuse the annual flats from last year.) Whatever you use, make sure it has drainage.
2. Fill with potting soil, preferably a mix with sphagnum peat moss. Moisten the soil.
3. Plant a few seeds, not many, about 1/8 inch deep and pat the soil lightly. Then cover with plastic and place in a very warm place, out of direct sunlight.
4. Keep watered. Once the seeds sprout, move the pots to a bright spot, a south-facing window is best. Water often, but not too much or too fast. The plants are fragile. If they get too big for their containers, move them to bigger pots.
5. When it gets close to planting time, it's time to harden them by placing them outside during the day, to get used to it, but not in direct sunlight at first. Bring them in every night.
6. When it's warm enough at night, transplant to the garden. Dig a hole slightly deeper than the pot and put the plant in, supporting it with your fingers. Firm the soil gently around the stem. Water carefully.
For tomatoes, it takes 6-8 weeks before they'll be ready to transplant outside. For Southeast Michigan, wait until Memorial Day to put tomatoes and peppers outside, because they are very frost sensitive and will grow much better when it's warmer at night. Occasionally, there is frost after Memorial Day, so watch the weather and cover plants when there's a frost forecast.

For more information, visit Burpee's guide to indoor seed starting

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