Middle to late March is a great time to start planning your summer vegetable garden. In Colorado Springs, where our growing season is much shorter than other locales, starting your seeds indoors can give you a 4-6 week head start to enjoying your harvest.
- Soil- choose a seeding mix or transplanting mix that is light. Seeds do not start well in a heavy soil.
- Containers- 2-3 inches wide and deep. You can purchase a tray, or use what you have at home (like Dixie cups or egg cartons), just make sure that whatever you use has holes to allow for drainage.
- Variety of Seeds- see our guide below on which veggies transplant better.
- Cellophane- to hold in moisture until seeds sprout.
- Spray bottle with water- to keep your soil moist.
Select the Right Environment:
- Place your planted seeds near a fan or open window to help them grow strong. If you do not provide a light breeze your seedlings will grow tall and lanky and are not likely to do well when you move them into the elements outdoors.
- Near a window or under a grow lamp to get plenty of sunlight.
Place pre-moistened soil into each of your containers. Place a couple of seeds in each, you can always thin them out later if needed. Consult your seed packet to determine the appropriate depth. Be sure to keep track of what you are planting as you go by labeling your containers with Popsicle sticks. Keep your soil moist using a spray bottle and cover your containers in cellophane to help hold in the moisture until the seeds start to sprout. Some plants take longer before they are ready to move outdoors ranging anywhere from 3-10 weeks. Our infographic below provides some good ranges using our last frost date in Colorado Springs of May 16th.
It’s important to allow your new seedlings time to “harden off” before planting them outdoors. You can do this by leaving them outdoors for a few hours a day to become accustomed to the elements. Expose the plants to more direct sunlight and wind each day for about two weeks and then carefully transplant them into your garden. Avoid transplanting before May 16th to avoid any last freezes. After transplanting you can cut the bottom out of one gallon milk jugs and place them around your plants until they are well established. It provides them a little more time to acclimate and helps hold in the moisture.