How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse
Are you interested in learning how to start seeds indoors but aren’t sure where to start? Follow along with this grow with me series where we are starting seeds indoors without a greenhouse.
If you’ve never started a garden from seed before, it is truly amazing how a tiny little seed can produce something beautiful or edible.
I’ve been starting seeds indoors for a few years now and will share the best process from seed to flower (or vegetable if you want to grow those) in a Grow With Me series.
But the best part?
You don’t need a greenhouse to start seed indoors.
A few years ago, I started a new cutting garden that was really fun. And starting the flowers from seed indoors was super cool experience that helped beat the winter blahs too.
Whether you want to grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables, learn how to start seeds indoors without a greenhouse this winter here.
Today’s post will provide an overview of the process. And then each step is broken down in the series at the end of this post.
Are you ready to grow an amazing garden this year?
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9 Benefits of Starting Seed Indoors
While you can always shop your local nursery for plants and flowers, starting seeds indoors is a rewarding experience with lots of benefits for the home gardener.
- Better control over growing conditions (light, temperature, moisture)
- Early start to growing season
- Protection from harsh weather
- Reduced risk of disease and pests
- Ability to grow rare or specialty plants
- More efficient use of garden space
- Budget-friendy way to grow plants
- It’s a rewarding experience
- Helps beat the winter blahs
How Do I Successfully Start Seeds Indoors If I Don’t Have a Greenhouse?
I used to be under the mistaken impression that I could not successfully grow seeds indoors without a greenhouse.
And that can not be further from the truth!
You absolutely DO NOT NEED A GREENHOUSE but you do need the right equipment.
While this post focuses more on growing flowers, you can start any type of seed using this process.
Get the Right Equipment to Start Seeds
While I have started plants from seed before with some success, it was pretty ho hum before I started using grow lights.
Some plants started easily, while others were epic fails. Part of the problem was that I started seeds in front of my south-facing windows and there wasn’t much room to grow stuff there.
The windows were not very large so my seed starting set-up sucked up a lot of my living space. And seedlings were not receiving an adequate amount of light to grow properly.
So it was a bit of a struggle to do it there.
And then the voice in my head took over. Telling me that I needed a greenhouse to be more successful.
And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
So if I want to expand my gardens to include more flowers that can be grown for cutting, I had to get that mindset. Because those flowers were not readily available at the nursery.
Get the negative thoughts out of my head, get the proper equipment, and start them from seed.
Since I don’t have a greenhouse and can’t do them on a large scale in my living room, I started seeds in my basement in my former home and the sunroom in my new home using the right equipment.
The first year I did this in the basement and it was a great spot to start them because I had plenty of space to grow lots of plants and they grew much better using the proper equipment.
I mean, I started 1400 flowers in my basement! It was pretty incredible and I was amazed at how much easier it was using grow lights.
How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse
Before we get started, keep in mind that while there is a science involved with starting seeds indoors, it is SUPER EASY to do.
Read through this overview to get an idea of what you’ll need to do before purchasing the equipment needed.
Location Location Location
If you are like me and do not have a greenhouse, find a spot in your home where you can place a grow system with lights.
It does not have to take up a lot of space, particularly if you use a shelf-type system.
Measure your garden space so you know how much of a growing system you’ll need to DIY or purchase. These measurements will help determine the size of your growing system, as well as the amount of seed trays you can fit.
Shop for Seeds
While you can purchase seeds locally from nurseries, I like to purchase from quality growers online in December and January.
My favorite seed sources include:
Since most online seed sales start in early January, I do my research beforehand, save a wishlist on their site, and then shop when their sales go live.
And you’ll still find seeds online after December and January, but there may not be as many options or varieties to choose from.
Keep in mind, some flowers and vegetables might need to be sowed sooner than later, so you will want to get your seeds early.
Gather Supplies to Start Seeds Indoors
We will cover more about the supplies and how I do my indoor seed starting set-up in the next post in this series.
But in general, here’s what to buy:
- Seed Starting Potting Soil
- Seed Trays
- Bottom or Drainage Trays
- Clear Dome Lids
- Grow Lights
- Table or Shelf System for Seedlings
- Heat Mat
- Plant Labels
- Oscillating Fan
- Programmable Timer
Since I have a lot of space in my basement and sunroom, I work with four-foot grow light systems on tiered wired shelves.
But there are smaller options available so design a system that works best for you and the space you have.
There are a few ways to create the grow light system
There are tiered systems available like these from Gardener’s Supply. And I love when everything comes together like this. Plus, it’s easy to use and move around.
But if you ask my husband, he wanted us to piece something together ourselves and make something similar to a pre-made tiered system.
That’s how we came up with the system we use and it works really well.
So there’s no right or wrong way to set up your system as long as you have a way to hang grow lights above seeds and have the ability to adjust the height.
Seed Starting Supply Tips
It is strongly recommended to do one flower variety per cell tray.
This is a GREAT tip because I’ve made the mistake of condensing different plants and varieties in the same cell tray and they germinated at different times.
So it is important to have enough cell trays for each packet of seeds.
Looking at my seed packs, I’m going to need a lot of trays!
Good thing I saved some trays with containers from the nursery last year for this very purpose.
Because I have leftovers, I’m planning to do a combination of re-using those and getting new supplies.
For the ones I am re-using, it is essential to clean them really well with a 1:10 ratio of chlorine bleach to the water to sanitize and kill any pests or diseases lingering behind.
This is actually a good practice for any pots or containers that you re-use for any type of plant.
Plan Your Seed Start Planting Schedule
While gathering seed starting supplies, chart the timing and needs for each seed packet.
It’s much easier to figure out how many supplies you’ll need after writing it all down. So read each seed packet and calendar their seed start dates together with plant requirements.
And while you are organizing the seed start schedule, it’s important to know when your last frost date is.
In New Jersey, my last frost date is typically around or just after Mother’s Day, but in the last few years, it’s been stretched to mid-May. I still tend to plant tenders around Mother’s Day anyway, but watch the weather like a hawk and am prepared to cover anything that is susceptible to frost.
With the last frost date in hand, look through each seed packet. Write down the flower, variety, date of maturity, when it should be sowed, seed starting dates, overall size, and color.
When mine was all written down, I added it to a spreadsheet to organize the information better. Not only does this make planning the garden easier, but it helps hone my seed starting supply list too.
And you can even add a notes column so you can jot down any growing notes of what you learned during the season. Like did this variety need staking? Was it more susceptible to a resident rabbit? Did it germinate with ease?
When to Start Seeds Indoors
Now that we know what it takes to start seeds indoors, when do we begin to sow them? And the answer is, it depends upon what you are growing.
So read the seed packets and determine how long seeds need to be sown before YOUR last frost date.
For me, my last frost date is typically in mid-May, so I count backwards from that date to determine when seeds should be sown indoors.
As an aside, if you are growing some cold tolerant varieties, you can save some indoor growing space by winter sowing them outdoors.
And that covers this overview of how to start seeds indoors.
In the next blog of the series, I’ll chat more about my seed starting supplies and the basement setup.
This is going to be so fun, isn’t it?
What is kind of garden do you want to grow from seed? Have you ever started seeds indoors before? I would love to know more in the comments below.
And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind the scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it on the blog. Would love to see you there too!
If you prefer to binge watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!
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 them to your gardening journal for ease of reference during the growing season.
How to Start Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse Series
- An Overview (you are here)
- Supplies for Starting Seeds Indoors Without a Greenhouse
- 7 Simple Tips to Getting Organized Before Starting Seeds Indoors
- What You Need to Know About Sowing Seeds Indoors
- 7 Lessons I Learned Starting Seeds Indoors
- What You Need to Know About Hardening Off Plants
- How to Plant a Garden After Starting Seeds Indoors
- 7 Lessons I Learned From Growing a Cut Flower Garden
- How to Keep Fresh Flowers Longer
- Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners
A Beautiful Cut Flower Garden in the Pacific Northwest
My good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells has a gorgeous cutting garden.
She lives in the pacific northwest and starts many of her flowers from seed.
And Kim also has an amazing greenhouse where she starts all those seeds. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Want to Learn How to Grow a Cut Flower Garden?
Would you like to learn how to grow a cut flower garden this year?
I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to grow your own flowers to cut and enjoy bouquets all season long.
And while I strongly suggest starting a cut flower garden from seed, you don’t have to. But you will be more limited to what’s offered at your local nurseries.
From starting seeds to planting and cut flower arranging, this post is for you!
Follow these cut flower gardening tips and be sure to check out my best advice for beginners at the end of this post.
Follow THIS cut flower gardening guide for beginners.
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