Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about growing your own vegetables is how short the growing season is in many parts of the U.S. If you wait to plant your vegetable seeds until the warm weather comes, you spend only half of your summer with fresh vegetables. Get a head start on your vegetable garden by sowing the seeds for the vegetables that you want to grow indoors and then transplanting them outside once the seedlings have sprouted.
Consult the seed packet of each vegetable that you want to sow for the length of time it should take for the seed to germinate. This period can be anywhere from four to 14 weeks, according to Purdue University. Begin sowing your vegetable seeds four to 14 weeks before the summer or fall growing season to give the seed time to grow into a seedling before transplant into the garden.
Fill the pots with potting mix. You can use any kind of potting mix to sow vegetable seeds, according to Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture, including synthetic mixtures with vermiculite and moss, straight vermiculite or half-soil/half-synthetic growing mixes. The Department of Horticulture recommends a self-made mixture of peat moss, vermiculite, limestone, superphosphate, iron and water.
Avoid packing the potting mix into the pots. Keep the potting mix loose by lightly patting it down and creating a level surface with your fingers, and wet the potting mix so that all of the mix is just moist.
Scatter the seeds in the pot if sowing smaller plants, such as peppers or onions. If starting very large plants, such as cucumbers, plant only two seeds per pot. If both of the seeds sprout successfully, cut one of the plants down and leave only one plant growing in the pot.
Cover the seeded pot with a piece of clear plastic or glass. Place the covered pots in a location that is out of direct sunlight and maintains a constant temperature between 65 and 75 degrees for most plants, or approximately 55 degrees for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and peas.
Remove the plastic or glass once the seeds sprout and relocated the plants to an area that receives direct sunlight. Water seeds regularly to keep the soil moist at all times. Transplant the seedlings to the garden once the chance of frost has passed.