03/16/2013 10:02 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tara Heibel: Sprout Home Q&A Of The Week: How To Plant Seeds Indoors

For this week's Sprout Home, expert Tara Heibel is answering common questions about planting seeds indoors. So if you're getting anxious for spring gardening, read through and get started!

Are you ready to get out into the garden again?

Well why not prep ahead of time by planting seeds indoors so that when it finally warms up enough, you're ahead of schedule and ready to go? It is advantageous to start your seeds inside a couple of weeks before last frost to ensure an abundance of healthy stock.

Q: I have heard and seen the word Heirloom a lot on seed packets - what does it mean?

A: Heirloom plants have been passed down from generation to generation, just like that special ring or brooch of your mother's. Heirlooms are raised from seeds that are at least 50 years old and are open-pollinated. Strong, disease resistant and flavorful, they look different from the veggies and fruit that you see at most supermarkets that are commercial hybrids and normally have sterile seeds.

planting seeds indoors

Q: Do I have to buy all the fancy seed equipment that I see in stores such as heating pads and manufactured seed trays? It seems expensive when you put it all together.

A: One of my favorite tricks to starting seeds is to use egg cartons as trays - an ultimate form of recycling. If the carton is made of biodegradable material, you can carry it further and actually plant it in the garden as well. Keeping the seeds on the warmer side will speed up the growing process but a warming mat is not necessary, as long as you make sure you don't place your seeds in a cool or drafty area. You can always heat up the oven ever so slightly and put the tray in there like a cookie batch just for a minute or two, but note that I said 'ever so slightly' - we do not want to cook them.

Q: Are there any other key elements that the seeds need to prosper?

A: Humidity and moisture control are important. Seeds like high humidity, and this is why most manufactured trays come with a dome of some sort. If you're making your own seed tray you can use saran wrap and toothpicks to create a propped up tent. While humidity is good, remember to let it air out once and a while to prevent fungal growth. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet. I always find that using a spritzer to let the water gently saturate does the trick //as to not// to avoid over watering them.

For more helpful gardening ideas and tips, be sure to look through the Plant Of The Week slideshow below.

Tara Heibel Sprout

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