This is my third year of starting seeds indoors. There are a few things I have learned.

1. It’s pretty hit or miss. Germination is a funny thing. It only happens under the right circumstances and some seeds are going to be duds. Even with brand new seeds there are bound to be some duds. So I’ve stopped getting discouraged when there are some in my batch that don’t germinate. I just plant another seed.

2. There are stages to planting. Most seed packets will say to plant the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeds before the last frost. Well what does that mean exactly? Since in Illinois the last frost is going to be sometime probably in April or even early May then that would mean the seeds should be started in March right? Well not exactly. There are crops like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, and leeks that like cold weather. So in order to have them in the Spring and early Summer, they need to be started indoors in January or in late July-ish to have a Fall/Winter crop. I am getting ready to plant herbs and strawberries now so they will be ready by the early Summer for planting outdoors. Then once my early Sping seeds are germinated and sitting in the sun I plant the mid to late Summer seeds, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and ground cherries.Such crops take less time to grow big enough to be transplanted outside so I start them last in late February.

Seeds started for the Spring3. Lastly, I will admit I still haven’t quite figured out what needs water when and how often. To me this is the most difficult part of growing plants. I find that some seeds are find just coming up in mildly damp soil with no covering, but then other seeds even of the same plant type will need to be covered in a humid tent to come up. I’ve taken to planting all the seeds putting them in the window with a heat mat and seeing what will come up into the open air. Then after about a week and a half, I put all the germinated little seedlings in a really sunny spot and I wet down all the still not germinated seeds and cover them with a clear lid and then I get some more seedlings.

I guess some seeds just need more babying that others

Most of all: OBSERVE. There are patterns in nature and we are trying to cheat it by getting a headstart. If we pay close enough attention we can mimick those patterns which will lead to better gardens!