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How to Start Seeds Indoors: What You Need

Do you want to start flower and vegetable seeds but don’t have a greenhouse? No problem! Follow along with Part 2 of this informative series that will describe how to start seeds indoors without a greenhouse.

In Part 1, we covered the basics and provided a general overview of how to start seeds indoors without a greenhouse

In Part 2 of the series, we will cover the supplies I purchased and am using to start my seeds indoors without a greenhouse.

So let’s get started!

I bought some cool stuff to make the seed starting system I wanted for the basement.

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How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse – The Supplies

Shortly after publishing Part 1 of this series, my husband and I went shopping for supplies at Home Depot.

We shopped with this general seed starting supply list.

I decided whatever I couldn’t find, I would purchase online.

In general, here’s what to buy:

Since I have a lot of space in my basement, I want to work with 4′ grow light systems.

There are smaller options available so design a system that works best for you and the space you have.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

How I Set Up My Seed Starting System in the Basement

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, I am starting my seeds in the basement. It’s pretty dark down there.

There are a few basement windows, but certainly not enough to give seedlings enough light to grow.

So a good system with several grow lights will do the trick!

There are a few ways you could create one.

But this is how we chose to do it.

The Seed Starting Shelf System

I really wanted to purchase a pre-made shelf system but they were a little more expensive than we cared to spend.

And, because I’m starting roughly 21 seed trays, I need more space than those pre-made systems could provide without spending a ton of money.

Chris considered building shelves with wood. Which is a great option.

But for us and how we use this basement the rest of the year, that would be more difficult to move around or put away when we are done with the seedlings.

So we ultimately decided on these chef shelves.

They are perfect for starting several seed trays.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Set Up
Measured to get the right height for each shelf. If we need more space, we’ll adjust the shelves.

It’s easy to hang grow lights on them.

The shelves are adjustable.

Plus we can use them for more than just growing seeds.

So this was a no-brainer.

To accommodate roughly (21) 10″x20″ seed trays, we bought 2 chef shelves.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

Grow Lights

Next up was purchasing grow lights.

Home Depot did not have 4 footers in the store, so we bought as many 2 foot ones that they had in stock.

And then I just purchased more online.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

They are pretty easy to use, came with a wire to raise and lower the lights and will work well with the chef shelf system.

Since I couldn’t find more 2 footers online, I purchased a few 4 foot grow lights.

Because I needed so many supplies, I had a feeling I would have to piecemeal some of them together.

It should all work out in the end, but I would rather have all of the same supplies.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies
Since I haven’t started any seeds yet, we are just starting to get everything set up and ready to go.

Seed Starting Trays, Clear Domes, and Irrigation Trays

Home Depot did not have much aside from the complete systems like these.

But I found the larger ones with 72 cells that have a self-watering tray and peat pot cells.

I’ve worked with them before when starting seeds, so I bought a bunch to use.

I won’t use them for every variety of seeds, but love that they have the water reservoir on the bottom so we can keep the plants well hydrated from there.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

Because there was little in-store stock, I purchased what was available based on my needs and purchased other items online.

In addition to the complete systems, I’m using some containers I have from last year.

If you want to reuse containers you already have too, make sure you properly clean them.

And, I ordered 4″ deep biodegradable cells, clear plastic dome and irrigation trays.

The reason I purchased the 4″ deep biodegradable cells is because there are a few seeds that need deeper cells to start and grow in.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies
I love that I can fit 4 trays on each shelf.

Seed Starting Soil and Vermiculite

For the cells/pots that do not have a seed starting mix in them, I purchased seed starting soil so I’m ready to go when its time to sow.

Some growers recommend using vermiculite to cover seeds after planting instead of soil.

It’s not necessary if you don’t have it, but the seeds have an easier time growing through it.

I already had vermiculite on hand, but if you don’t, here’s what I’m using.

My good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells just shared a great article about starting a garden with great soil.

Soil quality can make or break any garden, so I can’t stress enough the importance of good, healthy soil.

Photo by Kim from Shiplap and Shells

Heat Mats

I couldn’t find any heat mats in-store at Home Depot.

Instead of shopping around in other stores, I just ordered them online.

This is what I got.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

Plant Labels and Sharpie

I can’t stress enough how important it is to label EVERYTHING you plant right after sowing.

You’ll never remember the name and variety later so do yourself a favor and label it when you sow.

These are the plant tags I’m using.

To write on them, I’m just using a sharpie. But a pencil would work too.

Ultimately, you want to use something that won’t rub off.

So keep that in mind.

hibiscus in cottage garden

Programmable Timers

Because we are doing this indoors without a greenhouse, it’s important to make sure the seedlings are getting the proper amount of light.

In general, grow lights will be on for 14-16 hour days.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll never remember to turn them on and off every day, so a programmable timer is essential.

I’m using one like these and I bought two – one for each shelf system.

How to Overwinter Dahlias and Other Tender Bulbs

Power Strip

Since I am starting several shelves of grow lights on two separate programmable timers, I need to use a power strip for each shelf system.

This is what I’m using – but you can use anyone that you have on hand.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse


It’s almost time to start planting certain flower varieties, so I already have my seeds. If you don’t have yours yet, check with your local nursery, big box store, or reputable online retailers like Floret Flowers and Burpees.

I purchased mine from Floret Flowers at the recommendation of my good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells who has an amazing cut flower garden in the PNW.

Wait until you see how she grows her sweet peas from seed!

I’ve never grown sweet peas before but cannot wait to grow them this year.

They are the first seeds I’ll be sowing and I’m starting them next week!

Photo by Kim from Shiplap and Shells

Next up in the series, we’ll be chatting about how to get organized before starting seeds indoors. CLICK HERE to read the post.

Want To Get More Organized to Start Seeds?

CLICK HERE to get my FREE DOWNLOADABLE PRINTABLE that will help you get organized to sow seeds this year. Print as many pages as you want and add to your gardening journal for ease of reference during the growing season.

How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse Series

Shop for Seed Starting Supplies

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How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse
How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse - The Supplies

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  1. Super informative post!! I just picked up some trays this morning…I can’t wait to get everything started!! You are a couple of gardening weeks ahead of me.

    1. Thank you so much! I am so excited to start growing stuff! It will be so much fun to grow our gardens together. I am sowing my sweet peas next weekend!

    1. Thank you Anne! I am so excited to branch out of my gardening comfort zone and try some new plants! Have the best weekend! xoxo

  2. Could you share the information that you have written in your spiral notebook? What are the categories? I see flowers, days to maturity…what else?

    1. Hi Margaret! I’m sharing a post tomorrow that will detail how I organized myself to start my seeds. Stay tuned! xo

  3. I support my family gardener’s by sharing posts like this. They are my husband, daughter and DIL. We all agree you can never have too many flowers!

  4. Pingback: Weekly Rambles - Lora B. Create & Ponder
  5. To Stacy Ling: I added up the hardware items you used ,and in my area (Denver) You spent more than what a lean-to greenhouse costs. I counted 9 heating pads, 8 lights, 1 timer, 5 shelf bakers’ shelves. I’ll have to stick to the top of my refrigerator for heat; it gets some south facing light, and I have a West facing window which gets a lot of light, and I have a 6′ folding table there. I also have two grow lights with one bulb, not an 18″ one. I’ll have to do with what I have. Your stuff added up to $758.00 a lean-to is $641.00. I don’t know if a greenhouse needs lights or heat mats.

    1. Hi Susan! I totally understand the need to work within a budget. Every gardener is different having different needs, space requirements, hardiness zones, micro-climates and budgets. I’m so happy to hear you are growing stuff too! Best of luck with your garden!

  6. Will get a tray and start my indoor gardening activity. Excited to see plants blooming. This one is good, recommendations to start gardening.